Action Center: Northwest Region
The action center is where information about legislative actions around the country are gathered and posted for the benefit of all members. If you have any information to add here to the Northwest Region (Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming), e-mail email@example.com.
Washington Legislative Priorities
NARPM® Chapters in Washington state are part of the Washington Rental Housing Industry Coalition and recently lobbied the legislature on some important issues. Current priorities include the prevention of sealing unlawful detainer records; opposing portable screening records to ensure timely report information and allowing landlords to choose what information they use to make tenancy decisions; extending the deadline for carbon monoxide detectors to allow for consistent regulations and requirements; requesting rental property owner representation on the State Building Code Council; and clarifying what fees and notices are allowed on a 3 Day Pay or Vacate Notice. Click here for more information.
Washington Tenant Fair Screening Act
On March 15, 2012 Governor Gregoire signed into law SBB 6315 The Fair Tenant Screening Act. Effective June 7, 2012, the new law requires landlords to first notify the applicant in writing, or by posting, of the following:>
- What type of information will be accessed to conduct the tenant screening;
- What criteria may result in denial of the application; and
- If a consumer report is used, the name and address of the screening company and the applicant’s right to get a free copy of the report in the event of denial or other adverse action and to dispute the accuracy of information in the report.
Landlords may only charge an applicant the cost of a tenant screening report if the landlord provides the information above. Even landlords who do not use a screening company must comply with these requirements if the landlord charges a fee for the screening.
Any landlord or prospective landlord who violates this section may be liable to the prospective tenant for an amount not to exceed one hundred dollars. The prevailing party may also recover court cost and reasonable attorneys’ fees.
Montana Ruling on Broken Leases
A Montana Supreme Court ruling earlier this year will have an impact on how property managers handle broken leases, security deposits, and accelerated rent. Click here to read more from the Missoulian.
2010 Washington State Legislative Recap
BILLS THAT PASSED
SB 6459: Inspections and Civil Search Warrants
This was a joint effort of landlord groups to control the issue of city rental inspections. We found several cities adopting their own inspection procedures which varied dramatically from city to city. Over two summers between sessions of the legislature, landlords, tenants, and various cities met to negotiate a statewide standard for these inspections. The bill would allow inspections of property based upon probable cause that there are building code violations as determined by an appeal to a judge.
SSB 6261: Clarifying Municipally-Owned Utilities Collections from Owners
In Washington State a landlord is often held liable for unpaid utility bills by tenants. The utility companies would not tell property managers a tenant was behind on their payments, nor how much was owed. This bill limits the exposure of landlords to those bills. This legislation has been presented each legislative session for many years. Over the last few years negotiations were held between the various constituent groups and a compromise was reached.
SB 5742: Crime-free Rental Housing
(Passed legislature, awaiting Governor's action)
This bill will standardize the Crime Free programs Statewide. It also will prevent cities from using the program as a fundraising tool and making it mandatory for landlords to attend.
SHB 2484 and SSB 5549: Termination Notices
This bill was introduced by tenant advocates and attempted to lengthen the time required of landlords to ask tenants to vacate a property. It was lopsided in that it required more notice time from the landlord to tenant vs tenant notice to landlord. Legislators easily recognized the inherent unfairness of this demand and refused to support the issue once landlord groups brought it to their attention. We expect a variation of this to be presented next year by the tenant advocacy groups.
SHB 1766 and SSB 5672: Source of Income / Section 8
These bills would have made "source of income" and Section 8 a protected class throughout the state. We suggested to the legislators that while many of us participate in the Section 8 programs, it was clearly a voluntary program as created by the Federal Government. These bills would have required all landlords to participate. Defeat of this request from tenant advocates was a hard fought victory for landlord groups. We had numerous owners testify at several hearings. It was quite clear that if we had not been at the table this bill would have passed. It supports the argument that the “head in the sand” approach and depending upon the legislators to find the right solution no longer works. We expect this to be back on the table next year.
Washington Rental Housing Industry Coalition
Washington State Association of NARPM® has joined other real estate groups to form the Washington Rental Housing Industry Coalition. This is the first time the rental industry, both private owners and national associations like NARPM® and IREM®, have come together in an organized effort for lobbying in Washington State. The first legislative session was very successful. They succeeded in getting a major piece of legislation through that had been stalled for several years.