Governor Inslee has just signed SB 5600 which results in major changes to the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (RCW 59.18) regarding the eviction process of residential tenants. The changes do not apply to non-residential tenancies which are still governed by RCW 59.12. The new law includes additional protections for tenants and limits the ability of landlords to evict tenants or recover costs for legal proceedings. It also grants judges substantial discretion in eviction hearings whereas judges were previously bound by the express terms of the statute.
The major changes to the law are listed below:
• A landlord must provide a tenant 14 days’ notice instead of three days’ notice in order to cure default in the payment of overdue rent. The Attorney General’s Office will create a uniform 14-day notice to pay and vacate default form.
• Landlords must first apply any payment by a tenant to the rent amount before applying it towards other charges, including fees or other costs.
• When the court has entered a judgment restoring possession of the property to the landlord, the court may award statutory costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees to the landlord, but not if the judgment for possession is entered after the tenant failed to appear or the total amount of rent awarded in the judgment is equal to or less than two months of the tenant’s monthly contract rent or $1,200, whichever is greater.
• At a show cause hearing following entry of judgement for the landlord, the court may now take into account the following factors:
- the tenant’s willful or intentional default or failure to pay rent;
- payment history of the tenant;
- ability of tenant to timely pay judgment;
- whether nonpayment was caused by exigent circumstances beyond tenant’s control and are not likely to recur;
- if the tenant is otherwise in substantial compliance with the lease;
- hardship on the tenant if evicted; and
- conduct related to other notices within the last six months.
The new statutes will go into effect on July 27, 2019.
As the new statutory forms for evictions are published, we will make them available on this blog.
Questions about the new laws or landlord/tenant law in general can be directed to Larry Glosser (Larry.Glosser@acslawyers.com) or Ryan Sternoff (Ryan.Sternoff@acslawyers.com).
More information about the legislation can be found on the legislature’s website.