Working to transform the child welfare system.

Bills

SB 5160: Addressing landlord-tenant relations by providing certain tenant protections during and after public health emergencies, providing for legal representation in eviction cases, and authorizing landlord access to state rental assistance programs

The intent of SB5160 is to expand upon and preserve some protections outlined in the governor’s eviction moratorium: provide tenant protections during and after public health emergencies, provide legal representation for qualifying tenants in eviction cases, and ensure tenants and landlords have access to state and local rental assistance.

A few highlights of the bill include: 

With few exceptions and among other provisions, a landlord may not terminate a tenancy or refuse to renew a rental agreement until two years after expiration of any public health emergency. 

Tenants who are adversely impacted by any public health emergency may elect to terminate their tenancy upon a 20-day written notice, which includes a statement that the tenant will terminate their tenancy due to COVID-19. 

Before a landlord takes action to collect unpaid rent accrued between March 1, 2020 and the governor’s eviction moratorium expiration date, the landlord must now offer the tenant a repayment plan based on the individual financial and health circumstances of the tenant’s household, including financial obligations such as payments for food, utilities, work-related expenses, child support, medical care, child care, or other similar necessities.

The Washington state Office of the Attorney General will provide information and resources regarding rental assistance and legal representation. 

Substitute Bill:

  • Prohibits landlords from terminating or refusing to renew a rental lease that expires at the end of the lease term or is subject to a 20-day termination notice until two years after expiration of any public health emergency, with exceptions.
  • Authorizes tenants adversely impacted by COVID-19 to terminate their tenancy upon a 20-day written notice.
  • Requires landlords, before any collection action for unpaid rent accrued during the Governor’s eviction moratorium or public health emergency and if the rent debt is no more than six months, to first offer tenants a repayment plan schedule equal to or greater than payment of the rent debt in monthly payments of at least one-sixth of the rent debt owed.
  • Requires the court to appoint counsel for indigent tenants at the initial hearing and at trial and for the state to pay the costs of such legal services subject to amounts appropriated.
  • Requires the Administrative Office of the Courts to contract with dispute resolution centers to establish a two-year, statewide eviction resolution pilot program to facilitate the resolution of nonpayment of rent cases.
  • Requires the Department of Commerce to authorize landlords an opportunity to apply to certain state rental assistance programs, if feasible, while establishing necessary application and eligibility and conditions on receipt of funds .
  • Provides that unlawful detainer actions are presumptively of limited dissemination, with exceptions.
  • Eliminates the optional notice for landlords to use in nonpayment of rent cases that instructs tenants to pay into the court registry the rent allegedly owed or file a statement denying rent is owed.