2008 Legislative Report
This session, over 45 landlord related bills and related resolutions were re-introduced January 16th into the 2008th Legislative Session. Last year, 3 bills passed into law and one passed to go to the voters to relax the current 60% approval requirement for school levies (voter approved). A lot of attention was given to help the cause of homeless as well as new limits on government eminent domain actions. The bad news included proposals to limit rental late fees to 10% (with no eviction option for failure to pay late fee), and landlord requirements to consider Section 8 applicants (as a new protected category). Both died in the 2007 session. Other news included the making of military history a protected category and more eminent domain rights for owners.
SB 5123 - Protecting Military Status. Adds to human rights law making "honorably discharged veteran or military status" a protected category. Said military status is further defined in law (Passed to Gov): "(a) A veteran per RCW 41.04.007, or (b) An active or reserve member of any branch of the armed forces of the U S including national guard, coastguard, and armed forces reserves."
Passed & Signed by Governor effective 7-22-07
SB 5274 (HB1546)- Background Check Reports. Applies the provisions the fair credit reporting act to background check reports. By letter to committee, WLA urged that such requirements be limited to commercial credit and screening companies, exempting the general public/investors in use of the Internet, etc. Died in 2007 Committee
SB 5310 - Collections of Judgments. Expands the time periods for collections of certain judgments from 10 to 20 years. WLA supported this bill. Died in 2007 Committee
SB 6533 (HB 1956) - Source of Income Protected.
Outlaws (under human rights statute) discrimination against individuals due to lawful source of income (e.g. Section 8). This session, penalties were added ranging from $2,500 (first violation) to $10,000! By letter to committee, WLA did not contest the idea against such categorical Section 8 discrimination, but opposes the requirement to make Section 8 participation mandatory, making the income listings way too broad as exceeding the scope of human rights law, and imposing absurd penalties. For example, the bill would make landlords accept gambling money (or money from "Dad") as countable income in screening decisions. If not, get socked $2,500!!! Passed 2007 House, Senate limited to Section 8 with $100fine...died in 2007 Senate Rules. The tougher version (adding fines up to $10,000 likely in response to Seattle lobby complaining over Section 8) passed 2008 House. The exact same version was considered by Senate Judiciary where it died thankfully!
WLA’s letters (along with and your calls) helped kill this bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
SB 5854 - Delinquent Utility Charges. If city utility is properly notified in writing by landlord, utility cannot take action against the property owner for unpaid utilities. WLA supported by letter to committee. Call your representatives to support this long over-due idea for reconsideration next year. Died in Senate Rules
SB 5960 - Rental Late Fees. Limits late fees on rents to a one-time 10%; cannot evict for lack of late fee. A bill that will promote tougher screening and quicker evictions. WLA helped kill in committee. Let your representatives know about this! Died in Committee
SB 6060 - Unlawful Detainer Time-Lines. Revises the legal time-lines for evictions for lack of rent. Under WLA legal review; looked like trouble for landlords. Died in Committee
HB 1458-S - Condemnations. Requires notice to property owners before condemnation decisions. Passed/ Gov Signed effective 7/22/07.
SHB 1843 - Contractor Registration Rules. New L & I laws passed in session tightens up contractor registration requirements, particularly for those that buy to fix up and "flip" within 1 year. By letter dated Feb 11, WLA gave inputs to make the new law workable for landlords and property managers. At a follow-through L & I hearings February 28th, WLA was assured that essentially our concerns were addressed in a new handout (see inside, L & I Flyer).
HB 1865 (SB 5800) - Eviction Property Storage.
Clarifies process that landlord is not required to store tenant's property following sheriff eviction. This bill corrects an erratic court ruling saying landlords had to store tenant property in a sheriffs eviction. WLA’s earlier letter signed by over 100 WLA members, along with conference teaming with Pierce County Sheriff Representative Craig Adam, help revive this bill with workable compromises. Currently Passing.
Copies of these bills are available from the Washington State Legislative Information Center: PO Box 450600, Olympia WA 98504-0600, phone 360-786-7573, web site: www.leg.wa.gov
(Note: try the Web site, click bill info...works great!) You can also call in your legislative concerns on the leg hot line: