Major Changes in Residential Landlord-Tenant Law

The Washington state legislature has passed sweeping changes to residential landlord-tenant laws.

These new laws go into effect July 28, 2019.

Rent increases.

Effective July 28 of this year, rent increases will require 60 days notice for most tenants (currently 30 days). Different rules apply for Section 8 tenants. Other rule changes will still require 30 days notice.

Landlords must apply all payments towards rent first, before applying payments to non-recurring charges such as late fees, deposits, and other charges.

14-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Vacate Form.

A pay rent or vacate notice will require a 14-day cure period, as opposed to a 3-day cure period.

The landlord will be able to include only rent and utilities on the Notice to Pay Rent or Vacate. The landlord will not be able include any other charges, such as late fees, notice fees, or unpaid deposits. The landlord will be allowed to enforce these other charges by collection efforts, or through small claims court.

The landlord may seek up to seventy-five dollars in late fees in a judgment in an eviction, but again this should not be on the Notice to Pay Rent or Vacate.

There is a specific form required by statute. We will post the new 14-day notice form with instructions on our website.

Expanded tenants’ rights to reinstate tenancy.

Tenants will be able to reinstate their tenancy by paying the judgment within five days after the court enters the judgment.

The tenant will be required to pay all rent due, court costs, and late fees of up to seventy-five dollars. The tenant will be required to pay an additional fifty dollars for each time a judgment was reinstated within the previous twelve months.

If the tenant does not pay the judgment within five days, the judgment may be enforced and the tenant evicted.

Court ordered payment plans.

Courts will have new authority to impose a payment plan, with limitations.

Payment plans are limited to up to ninety days.  Tenants are required to make monthly payments, and pay the entire judgment amount within no more than ninety days.

The court must require a monthly rent payment within five days under any payment plan.

If the tenant misses any payments, the landlord may proceed with eviction.

A tenant who has been served three or more notices to pay rent or vacate within the previous twelve months is not eligible for a payment plan.

Conclusions.

Once the new laws go into effect, serve the 14-day notice to pay rent or vacate immediately when a tenant is late with rent. Because the period is longer, get the clock ticking right away. Also, tenants who have been served three or more notices within twelve months are not eligible for a court ordered payment plan.

This is a simple summary covering some of the more important aspects of new landlord-tenant laws. There are many nuances beyond the scope of a short summary.

Contact our office for more information about Washington’s new landlord-tenant laws

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