Washington Legislature Passes Landmark Landlord-Tenant Reforms

The Washington state legislature has passed sweeping changes to residential landlord-tenant laws, aimed at preventing homelessness. The new bill is expected to be signed into law by the governor.

The reforms slow the eviction process and provide tenants new and expanded opportunities to stay in their current housing by paying only rent owed (including utilities and a capped amount of late fees).

Critiques argue these reforms will cause increases in rent for all residential tenants. Since landlords can no longer enforce security deposit payment through an eviction notice, security deposits will be difficult at best to collect. History and basic economics teaches us that landlords will pass this increased risk to all tenants by increasing the rent.

A pay rent or vacate notice will require a 14-day cure period, as opposed to a 3-day cure period. Landlords will have a strong incentive to serve these notices immediately if rent is late, to get the clock moving.

Although in the past landlords often obtained judgments for all money owed, including court costs, these judgments more often than not went uncollected, as they were against tenants with no means to pay the judgments. Under the new law, landlords will have more opportunity to collect some of the money owed than in the past.

Contact and landlord-tenant lawyer for more information about how Washington’s new landlord-tenant laws affect you.

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