SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL = MORE REGULATION

The Seattle City Council recently passed two new rental ordinances?  One requires a six-month notice of any rent increase.  The other requires the landlord to pay moving costs to any low-income tenant who vacates because of a cumulative rent increase of 10% or more.

  • Low-income is defined as no greater than 80% of median income. (Approximately $63K for an individual and $94K for a family of four.) 
  • The calculation of the economic displacement relocation assistance payment will be three times the average rent charged in the previous twelve months.

Mayor Durkan vetoed both bills.  Her letter* cites in part:

  • A large portion of these small unit properties are in the hands of small landlords.
  • Small owners themselves are facing the economic uncertainties of COVID-19 and the ever-rising costs in Seattle.  For example, property taxes increased by 17% in 2020 over 2019 due to school levy increases. 
  • Imposing this ordinance with no carve out for our small-scale property owners … could reduce the number of affordable rental units as many property owners just will be unable to absorb these losses and many will sell the properties for owner occupied housing.

These bills may violate Washington State’s constitution which bans rent control.  Mayor Durkan concluded with the hope that the “Council will reconsider the impacts on the smallest owners and pass a new law that does not unfairly and maybe illegally burden those owners.” 

We are here to help you and your clients with all aspects of the rental market. Please contact us for further assistance! 

Nothing found herein should be construed as an attempt to offer or render a legal opinion or otherwise engage in the practice of law. You should not rely solely on this information. We encourage our clients to work with a lawyer experienced in commercial and/or residential real estate matters as they can be complicated and confusing. 

*The entire letter is available here:

http://seattle.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=9876857&GUID=58F4DF51-2047-46CC-BF98-53EB979C0622

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NO EVICTIONS – MORE OF THE SAME

The governor’s bridge proclamation was just extended through October 31, 2021.  The purpose is to, “to allow more time for local jurisdictions to distribute rental assistance funding.”  Landlords can raise rents with a 60-day notice and can give a 90-day notice to vacate in most locations if the owner wants to sell or move into the rental.  Late fees may not be charged, and tenants cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent if the rent became due during March 1, 2020, and July 31, 2021.

In addition, the Seattle City Council is considering two new measures which would require landlords to give six months’ notice to raise rent.  The second bill would require landlords to pay relocation assistance equal to three months of rent for low-income tenants who depart after rent increases of 10% or more. 

Landlords. If you are struggling with your mortgage payments, call your lenders and keep them in the loop. In our experience, banks don’t want to foreclose if it’s at all possible. Talk with them – work with them!

Also, check out https://www.commerce.wa.gov/serving-communities/homelessness/eviction-rent-assistance-program/ and https://www.commerce.wa.gov/serving-communities/homelessness/landlord-fund-programs/

We are here to help you with all aspects of the rental market. Please contact us for further assistance!

Nothing found herein should be construed as an attempt to offer or render a legal opinion or otherwise engage in the practice of law. You should not rely solely on this information. We encourage our clients to work with a lawyer experienced in commercial and/or residential real estate matters as they can be complicated and confusing.

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Eviction Resolution Program – Washington State

After the governor’s bridge proclamation expires on September 30, 2021, a landlord can serve a notice to pay or vacate on tenants with unpaid rent. The notice must include a copy of the Eviction Resolution Program (ERPP) Notice and copies of both notices must be sent to the dispute resolution center (DRC) serving the county in which the property is located. Under the statute, the 14-Day Notice to Pay or Vacate is to include this sentence:

“Free or low-cost mediation services to assist in nonpayment of rent disputes before any judicial proceedings occur are also available at dispute resolution centers throughout the state.  You can find your nearest dispute resolution center at https://www.resolutionwa.org.”     

The ERPP form notifies tenants that:

“ERPP requires landlords to try to reach agreements with tenants about unpaid rent before they can ask for eviction in court. You may be eligible for rent assistance and legal help through the ERPP.

If you participate in the ERPP, your landlord must work with you and a specialist from your local Dispute Resolution Center (DRC). If that solves the problem, great! If not, the DRC will offer free mediation. Mediation is voluntary – it only happens if both sides agree to do it.

You have a right to negotiate a payment plan that works for you.”

Landlords cannot file an unlawful detainer action in court until these steps are taken and a tenant has the opportunity to obtain assistance.  Information about the program and a copy of the ERPP form can be found here: https://www.courts.wa.gov/newsinfo/index.cfm?fa=newsinfo.EvictionResolutionProgram

We are here to help you and your clients with all aspects of the rental market. Please contact us for further assistance! 

Nothing found herein should be construed as an attempt to offer or render a legal opinion or otherwise engage in the practice of law. You should not rely solely on this information. We encourage our clients to work with a lawyer experienced in commercial and/or residential real estate matters as they can be complicated and confusing. 

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MORE RULES – MORE CONFUSION

The King County Council passed an ordinance regarding rentals which went into effect on July 16, 2021?  This ordinance applies to all rental properties in King County that are outside of city limits. (Unincorporated) The new law includes the following provisions:

  • The maximum monthly late fee is 1.5% of one month’s rent.
  • Landlords may not require potential tenants to provide a social security number when applying for a rental.
  • The security deposit and move in fees charged shall not exceed one month’s rent.
  • Tenants with a rental agreement of at least six months may elect to pay move in fees and security deposits in equal payments over the first six months of the lease.
  • Rent increases of 3% or more require 120 days’ notice.
  • A landlord found in violation of any of the provisions in this chapter is liable for the greater of double the tenant’s economic and noneconomic damages or three times the monthly rent of the dwelling unit at issue, and legal fees.

We are here to help you and your clients with all aspects of the rental market. Please contact us for further assistance! 

Nothing found herein should be construed as an attempt to offer or render a legal opinion or otherwise engage in the practice of law. You should not rely solely on this information. We encourage our clients to work with a lawyer experienced in commercial and/or residential real estate matters as they can be complicated and confusing. 

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WHEN IS LEASE NOT A LEASE? When it’s a residential lease!

The recent Just Cause and Mandatory Lease Renewal law differentiates between a term lease and a month-to-month rental agreement. If a tenant has consistently signed a term lease, a lease with at least a six-month term, the landlord can give a 60-day notice to vacate at the end of the term without a stated cause. 

If the tenant signs a month-to-month rental agreement, a lease of less than six months or a term lease ends and the tenant remains under a month-to-month rental agreement, the landlord can only terminate the rental for cause! This means the landlord must cite one of the 16 reasons allowed under the law.

The Legislature offered provided one exception. Because this new law went into effect during the moratorium, if a tenant signs a new lease of at least six months within three months of the end of the governor’s eviction moratorium, landlords will have the ability to give a 60-day notice without case at the end of a term lease.  This means that tenant must sign a new lease by September 30th in order for landlords to retain this option.

We are here to help you and your clients with all aspects of the rental market. Please contact us for further assistance! 

Nothing found herein should be construed as an attempt to offer or render a legal opinion or otherwise engage in the practice of law. You should not rely solely on this information. We encourage our clients to work with a lawyer experienced in commercial and/or residential real estate matters as they can be complicated and confusing

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RENT PRICES AND THE MORATORIUM

Although rent prices decreased by as much as 20% during the pandemic, rents in some areas are rising again.  The governor’s eviction moratorium included a prohibition against rent increases from March 2020 through June 2021.  Now that rents can be increased with a 60-day notice, some landlords are trying to recoup income lost during the moratoriums.

As remote work reduced the need to be in city centers, some renters went in search of more affordable rents or more space, driving up prices outside Seattle.  Now, “people are considering dense cities to be the attractive place to live they had for much of the pre-pandemic period,” said Rob Warnock, senior research associate at Apartment List.

We are here to help you and your clients with all aspects of the rental market. Please contact us for further assistance!

Nothing found herein should be construed as an attempt to offer or render a legal opinion or otherwise engage in the practice of law. You should not rely solely on this information. We encourage our clients to work with a lawyer experienced in commercial and/or residential real estate matters as they can be complicated and confusing.

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BUYING A HOME – BEWARE!!!!

Washington’s new Just Cause Eviction Ordinance applies to home sellers in possession after closing. The Just Cause Eviction Ordinance requires a landlord to state a reason for terminating a month-to-month rental agreement.  There are 16 reasons allowable under the state law and the amount of time required depends on the reason cited.  If the sellers don’t vacate voluntarily, the buyers would be able to terminate the rental agreement based on their desire to occupy the premises, however, that would require a 90-day notice to vacate.   

We are here to help you and your clients with all aspects of the rental market. Please contact us for further assistance! 

Nothing found herein should be construed as an attempt to offer or render a legal opinion or otherwise engage in the practice of law. You should not rely solely on this information. We encourage our clients to work with a lawyer experienced in commercial and/or residential real estate matters as they can be complicated and confusing. 

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STATE LANDLORD REQUIREMENTS

That state law requires landlords to take specific steps prior to taking legal action against a tenant for non-payment of rent?

•         No action make be taken until the county where the rental property is located can attest that the county has a functioning rental assistance program and eviction resolution program.

•         If county has not yet attested, a landlord may serve the tenant with a pay or vacate notice ONLY IF the following conditions are met.

o         The notice is only for rent due beginning in August 2021 and does not include other past due rent.

o         The tenant did not pay the full or negotiated rental rate.

o         The tenant does not have a pending rental assistance application.

o         Service of notice must comply with all state laws including concurrent service of notice as required by the Eviction Resolution Program (ERP).

•         After the county has attested, service of 14-day pay or vacate for rent arrears is permitted if following conditions are met:

o         The tenant does not have a pending rental assistance application.

o         Service of notice must comply with all state laws including concurrent service of Eviction Resolution Program (ERP) notice.

We are here to help you and your clients with all aspects of the rental market. Please contact us for further assistance!

Nothing found herein should be construed as an attempt to offer or render a legal opinion or otherwise engage in the practice of law. You should not rely solely on this information. We encourage our clients to work with a lawyer experienced in commercial and/or residential real estate matters as they can be complicated and confusing.

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WASHINGTON STATE EVICTION MORATORIUM

The state eviction moratorium was extended and modified through the end of September.  The governor’s “bridge” proclamation prohibits evictions for non-payment of past due rent, “until such time as the resources and programs established by the Legislature are in place and operational.”  Furthermore, evictions for non-payment of future rent – August 1 through September 30, 2021 – are not permitted if the tenant has “demonstrably taken action to pay rent.”  Evictions for other reasons allowed under state law are permitted.

The order also requires that:

  • Landlords and tenants avail themselves of rental assistance and eviction resolution pilot programs the legislature has ordered established in order to resolve any COVID-related past due rent which became due between February 29, 2020, and July 31, 2021;  
  • Tenants take steps to pay rent or avail themselves of rental assistance in order to pay rent which becomes due between August 1, 2021, and the end of this proclamation or any extension thereof;
  • For any tenant who is or becomes in arrears, landlords offer a reasonable repayment plan to tenants per Senate Bill 5160; and
  • Tenants respond to notice of funding and other available programs within the timeframes established by the legislature. 

Non-traditional and other transient housing previously covered by the eviction moratorium are not included in this order, including hotels/motels, vacation rentals, and camping areas.

We are here to help you and your clients with all aspects of the rental market. Please contact us for further assistance!

Nothing found herein should be construed as an attempt to offer or render a legal opinion or otherwise engage in the practice of law. You should not rely solely on this information. We encourage our clients to work with a lawyer experienced in commercial and/or residential real estate matters as they can be complicated and confusing.

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CONFUSED?? YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

That the state eviction moratorium was extended through the end of September?  Some landlords have been holding off on signing new leases with their tenants because they have been hoping to raise rents.  No rent increases have been allowed for the last 15 months and although no legal action has been allowed against tenants who did not pay rent, landlords’ obligations to maintain the property, pay mortgages and property taxes were not deferred.

Landlords who are considering their options now need to remember the provisions of the new state Just Cause Eviction law.  Landlords can no longer give a notice to vacate without a reason unless the tenant has consistently signed leases of at least six months.  As long as the lease has not reverted to a month-to-month rental agreement, the landlord may, at the end of the lease, give a 60-day notice to vacate without a stated reason.  The only exception to the requirement for consistent term leases is at the end of the eviction moratorium.  As long as landlords sign a new term lease within three months of the end of the eviction moratorium, the option of a 60-day notice without a stated cause remains available.

We are here to help you and your clients with all aspects of the rental market. Please contact us for further assistance!

Nothing found herein should be construed as an attempt to offer or render a legal opinion or otherwise engage in the practice of law. You should not rely solely on this information. We encourage our clients to work with a lawyer experienced in commercial and/or residential real estate matters as they can be complicated and confusing.

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