TENANT IN A RENTAL – HOUSE FOR SALE

Under the new “Just Cause Eviction” state law, landlords can give a 90-day notice that a tenant must vacate if the owner wants to sell a single-family home.  According to this law, within 30 days of the tenant vacating the rental, the landlord must list the property for sale, “At a reasonable price with a realty agency or advertise it for sale at a reasonable price by listing it on the real estate multiple listing service.” 

What happens to the buyer if the seller does not give proper notice of his/her plan to sell?

Since the buyer of the rental house cannot cite an intention to sell as a reason for a notice to vacate, if the tenant does not vacate prior to closing, the buyer may be required to initiate a new legal action to remove the tenant.  After closing, the buyer could give a 90-day notice to vacate due to their intention to personally occupy the property.  Not much help if the moving van is due to arrive, is it?

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! Tell me about it!!!

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING 2021!

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WHAT IS REASONABLE?

There is a difference between a reasonable accommodation and a reasonable modification. 

Landlords must agree to either as long as the request is reasonable and is related to a disability.  HUD says the landlord may deny the request if it places, “an undue financial or administrative burden on the housing provider or alters the fundamental nature of their program.”

A reasonable accommodation is a change, exception or adjustment to a rule, policy, practice or service.  These would include a request to allow an emotional support animal in a no pets building or a request that a landlord communicate with a deaf tenant via a relay service for hearing impaired persons.  The cost of a reasonable accommodation is the landlord’s.

A reasonable modification is a physical change made to the tenant’s living space or to the common area(s) of the property in order to enable the tenant with a disability to have full use of the rental property.  These would include allowing a tenant to install a wheelchair ramp or to install grab bars in a shower.  The cost of a reasonable modification is the tenant’s.  The tenant is responsible for returning the property to the same condition as when first leased if leaving it intact would impact the next tenant’s use of the rental.

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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SHRINKING RENTAL HOME AVAILABILITIES

Nationally, according to a survey by the National Rental Home Council, about 23% of small landlords, those owning between one and three single-family homes, planned to sell at least one property due to difficulties caused by the eviction ban.

A report by Reuters finds that small landlords impacted by COVID and the resulting regulations are offloading their properties to institutional investors, broadly defined in the industry as firms owning more than 1,000 units. The increase of big investors in the market is anticipated to mean higher rents and less affordable housing.

Locally, some of Seattle’s small landlords say the wave of new rental rules is changing the city’s rental market, and they feel they’re being forgotten.  A landlord consultant reported that the increase in regulations is impacting landlords and in a strong seller’s market many have decided to sell and reinvest elsewhere, thus reducing the pool of affordable housing.

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 INCREASES IN SEATTLE

The bill the Seattle City Council recently passed requiring 180 days’ notice for rent increases takes effect next month.  The relocation-assistance requirement takes effect in July 2022.

Any notice of rent increase requires specific language, font size and formatting: 

RIGHT TO LEGAL COUNSEL: CITY LAW PROVIDES RENTERS WHO ARE UNABLE TO PAY FOR AN ATTORNEY THE RIGHT TO FREE LEGAL REPRESENTATION IN AN EVICTION LAWSUIT. If you need help understanding this notice or information about your renter rights, call the Renting in Seattle Helpline at (206) 684-5700 or visit the web site at www.seattle.gov/rentinginseattle.

If the increase will take effect July 1, 2022, or later and is for 10% or more, there are more requirements, including method of delivery. In addition, the notice must include a packet about the new economic displacement relocation assistance program. This has not yet been developed by Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections (SDCI) but is expected in the next six months.

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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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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