Legislative Update EVERYONE in Property Management, Leasing and Maintenance Should Know

legislationFriday, February 27 marked the fiscal committee deadline. All bills with a fiscal impact and not deemed ‘necessary to implement the budget’ (NTIB) must have been reported out of fiscal committees or considered ‘dead’ for the remainder of the 2015 legislative session.

Below is an update on bills WMFHA is following and their status at this time.

HB 1257 / SB 5123: Portable Tenant Screening. These companion bills define a “comprehensive screening report.” If a landlord is presented with the opportunity to access such a report on-line the landlord must either accept this report or pay for any additional report the landlord wants to use. The House bill was amended to change the effective date to May 1, 2017 and was voted out of committee. The Senate version is dead. WMFHA position: Oppose.

HB 1460 / SB 5376: Prevents Screening Companies from Disclosing Eviction Lawsuits in Limited Circumstances: The Senate bill has been amended. It now provides that screening companies would be prevented from disclosing the existence of a filed eviction lawsuit that has been sealed by a court order. There is no direction provided in the bill to govern rules or procedures for sealing such court files. The House bill is dead. WMFHA position: Oppose because of the lack of guidelines for sealing.

HB 2051 / SB 5377: Requiring 90-days Notice for Rent Increases of 10% or More. Seattle already has an ordinance that requires 60-days notice for a rent increase of 10% or more in any 12-month period. These bills would authorize but not require a city to adopt a law that could require 90-days’ notice for such a rent increase. They would also increase the number of people who would qualify for relocation assistance if a property is demolished or substantially remodeled. The House bill was amended and is still alive. The Senate bill is dead. WMFHA Position: Oppose.

HB 1565 / SB 5378: Makes Source of Income a Protected Class: The title of the bills has been changed from previous versions but the effect is the same. They would make Section 8 voucher holders a protected class across the state. Both bills are dead for this session but may return next year. WMFHA Position: Oppose.

HB 1574 / SB 5538: Procedures for Dealing with Deceased Tenant’s Property. These bills create procedures for dealing with the personal property of a deceased tenant who is the only occupant of a rental unit. Both bills have been amended but are not identical. We are working with tenant advocates and staff to come up with language that all parties can accept. Both bills are still alive. WMFHA Position: Support.

HB 1278: Energy Benchmarking and Disclosure: This bill mandates an energy benchmarking requirement similar to the one in existence in Seattle. Property owners would be required to supply energy data using the EPA website. This bill is still alive and in the Rules Committee. WMFHA Position: Oppose.
HB 1824: Long Life Smoke Detectors. This bill requires retailers to only sell “long life smoke detectors” beginning July 1, 2017. These detectors have a lithium battery that the supporters of the bill claim will last 10 years. The bill does not impose any duties on owners or property managers although the language might change. This bill is still alive and in the Rules Committee. WMFHA Position: Monitor.

HB 1609 / SB 5846: Creates Exemptions to Plumbing and Electrical Codes. These bills would eliminate the need for using a licensed electrician or plumber for minor repairs or modifications. The House bill is dead but the Senate version is still alive. WMFHA Position: Support.

SB 5185: Creates a 6-Year Timeframe for Substantial Building Code Amendments. The summary of the bill says it all. WMFHA Position: Support.

SB 5218: Allowing Use of Unlawful Detainer for At-Will Tenancies. Adds a new section to the unlawful detainer statutes (RCW 59.12) and would require a 30-day notice to terminate an at-will tenancy. The bill has been amended to address concerns raised by tenant advocates and is still alive. WMFHA Position: Support.

SB 5219: Allowing a 3-day Notice to Pay Rent to Include All Fees. This would allow a landlord to include late fees and other fees such as utilities in a 3-day notice to pay rent. The bill has been amended to make clear that a 3-day notice could only be used if rent and other charges were owing. A 3-day could not be used only for other charges. WMFHA Position: Support.

SB 5220: Allowing for Money Judgments Against Tenants After Alternate Service. Modifies existing statute regarding service of eviction lawsuits by posting and mailing. This would allow for a money judgment to be entered if the tenant answers and defends against the lawsuit. WMFHA Position: Support.

SB 5221: Allows for Disposition of Tenant’s Property after Eviction. The bill allows a landlord to dispose of any tenant property that has been removed from the unit during a physical eviction after a 5-day waiting period. WMFHA Position: Support.

HB 1866 / SB 5259: Requires Landlords to Provide Voter Registration Information to Tenants. Creates a new duty for landlords to provide voter registration information to new tenants at time of move-in. The House version is alive the Senate version is dead. WMFHA Position: Oppose.

HB 1929 / SB 5446: Requiring Electric Car Charging Stations. These bills would require local governments to offer incentives to developers and owners of new and existing multifamily properties for installation of charging stations for electric cars. Both bills are still alive. WMFHA Position: Monitor.

To review any of these bills visit www.leg.wa.gov, select “Bill Search” tab and enter the bill number. There is an option that allows anyone to comment on bills. Just select the “comment on this bill”: box next to the bill number on the page. Your comments will be visible to any legislator wishing to view it.

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