Co-authored by AT Miller and Zaine Yzaguirre.
In view of the Covid-19 pandemic the 2021 Washington State Legislature adopted significant changes to our state’s landlord/tenant law, which can be confusing for a lot of people. Our firm created an easy-to-read summary of the changes below.
Standards for rent repayment plans
Landlords must offer a reasonable repayment plan of monthly payments of no more than 1/3 of the monthly rent. The unpaid rent must have been incurred from March 1, 2020 through the end of the eviction moratorium or the end of the public health emergency, whichever is later. The eviction moratorium ended on September 1, 2021, but the public health emergency does not expire until January 16, 2022 and could be extended further unless more people get vaccinated and herd immunity is achieved.
Eviction Resolution Pilot Program (ERPP)
Landlords in Spokane County are required to provide tenants notice of the availability of an Eviction Resolution Pilot Program. This program provides mediation services to help renters and landlords agree on how to make up rent and get help with paying for rent instead of going to court.
Right to Counsel for Indigent Defendants
Subject to funding, indigent tenants in filed eviction cases can ask the court to appoint a lawyer to help them. A person is “indigent” if they receive public assistance or their annual income, after taxes, is at or less than 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.
Landlords must give a reason for ending rental agreements and evicting tenants
In addition to the general service requirements, Landlords must give tenants at least one of the 17 statutorily authorized reasons listed below for ending rental agreements and evicting tenants. Among other things, this means there are no more 20-day notices to vacate for no reason. Before, landlords could refuse to renew month-to-month agreements for no reason, except in a few Washington cities.
(17) Authorized Reasons for Eviction:
- Nonpayment of Rent & Eviction Resolution Pilot Program Compliance
- Tenant Breaches a Material Program Requirement of Subsidized Housing
- Tenant Commits Waste, Nuisance, or Unlawful Activity
- Owner or Owner’s Family Becomes Principal Residence
- Owner Elects to Sell Single-Family Residence
- Owner Elects to Demolish or Rehabilitate Premises
- Condominium Conversion
- Building Conversion
- Premises Become Certified Uninhabitable by Local Agency
- Owner Shares Dwelling with Tenant
- Transitional Housing
- Rental Agreement Expires without Proposed New Rental Agreement
- Tenant Provides Intentional Misrepresentations and/or Omissions on Application
- A Legitimate Economic or Business Reason
- Four or More Enumerated Material Lease Violations
- Tenant is Required to Register as a Sex Offender or Fails to Disclose Sex Offender Status on Application
- Tenant Engages in Unwanted Sexual Advances or Other Acts of Sexual Harassment