After being homeless, Christy X (pictured) moved into her Coniston Arms Apartments unit in Seattle at the beginning of 2019. She had bounced around from shelters to friends’ places after facing an eviction at her West Seattle apartment in October 2018. A diversion program run by the nonprofit Mary’s Place helped her find housing. File photo

After being homeless, Christy X (pictured) moved into her Coniston Arms Apartments unit in Seattle at the beginning of 2019. She had bounced around from shelters to friends’ places after facing an eviction at her West Seattle apartment in October 2018. A diversion program run by the nonprofit Mary’s Place helped her find housing. File photo

State lawmakers consider eviction reform legislation

Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, is bill’s prime sponsor.

By Emma Epperly, WNPA Olympia News Bureau

Protecting tenant rights through increasing the length of eviction proceedings is part of eviction-reform legislation, currently in the state House of Representatives.

The House Committee on Civil Rights and Judiciary heard public testimony March 19 on Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5600.

The bill would extend from three to 14 days the time a tenant has to comply with a notice to pay rent or vacate before unlawful detainer action. This notice means that tenants must vacate the property or pay the back rent if they do not want eviction proceeds on their record.

The measure also authorizes judicial discretion in unlawful detainer proceedings. Landlords would be allowed, under certain circumstances, to seek payment from the Landlord Mitigation Program Account, which is an account held by the Department of Commerce that tenants payback over time, for an unpaid judgment of over $500.

Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, is the prime sponsor of the bill and the chair of the Senate Housing Stability and Affordability Committee. Kuderer testified in support of the bill and noted the continued work being done with stakeholders to perfect the bill.

“It was interesting because what jumped out at us is that right out of the gate the leading cause of homelessness was evictions. Eviction for nonpayment of rent in particular,” Kuderer said.

The change of notification time from three days to 14 days was the major point of contention throughout the public testimony.

“What the data showed us is that Washington was an outlier at three days and that it was inhumane to give someone a notice and three days later expect them to pack up all their worldly possessions and find another place to live,” Kuderer said.

In a study done by the Housing Stability and Affordability Committee, 26 other states have longer periods of time than Washington’s current three days. Some states allow as long as 30 days. Kuderer said she settled on two weeks because it would allow tenants to receive an additional paycheck during that time. The bill represents a “hard-earned compromise” for Kuderer.

John Gipson is a 63-year-old landlord who has eight rental properties and utilizes his rentals as his sole source of income. He testified in opposition of the bill, citing the change of notice time.

“The three-day notice is only the first step in the eviction process. Now I hope you all realize that. For me we have only done a few evictions, but it takes at least 30 days from what I have been able to determine in my experience,” Gipson said. “It costs me about a $1,000 or more for the attorney fees plus the vacant property for the 30 days rent.”

These changes will ultimately hurt tenants because they increase landlords’ costs, which will cause rents to rise over time, said Gipson.

Doug Nethart has been a landlord for about 40 years. He testified against the bill, saying he opposes the 14-day change. He currently gives his tenants a five-day grace period, so the earliest he would hand out a three-day notice is on the 7th of any given month, said Nethart. Nethart feels that extending this process isn’t a problem, but a reduction from 14-day period to a seven-day or eight-day period would reduce the elimination of a grace period for current landlords.

Soap Lake Mayor Raymond Gravelle is a Realtor. He said he doesn’t know of any action that could be taken locally to change these requirements.

“Tenants have too many rights as it is,” said Gravelle. “It’s a hardship for landlords to evict tenants, and it shouldn’t be.”

Edmund Witter from the King County Bar Association, which has been a part of the stakeholder process, testified in support of the bill.

“The overall net effect of the bill is to add 11 days to the eviction process. It’s just 11 days,” Witter said. “We know this is not unprecedented as we have spoken about before. We did ask Dr. Tim Thomas from UW to look in to the effect that 14 days would have on the housing stock in states that have passed it, and he couldn’t find any absorbable effect whatsoever.”

A date is not yet scheduled for the House Committee on Civil Rights and Judiciary to take executive action on this bill.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Northwest

A train route that would shuttle people between Eastern and Western Washington could tie in with the proposed ultra-high-speed rail between B.C. and Portland. Photo courtesy RobertStafford/Pixabay.com
State receives King County to Spokane rail study

It would take about eight and a half hours to reach the Inland Empire from Puget Sound.

Bret Chiafalo. File photo
Supreme Court says state can punish WA faithless electors

Justices: Presidential electors, including Everett man, must keep pledge to back popular vote winner

Gov. Jay Inslee issued new guidance allowing the resumption of self-service buffets, salad bars, salsa bars, drink stations and other types of communal food sources in Phase 2. File photo
Buffets and salad bars back on the menu in King County

Gov. Jay Inslee has revised rules to allow self-serve food areas in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening.

State regulators keep Puget Sound Energy rates steady

Rate adjustments ease economic impact during COVID-19 pandemic

Brian Tilley (left) and Katie Dearman work the wash station Friday at Kate’s Greek American Deli in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Governor’s no-mask, no-service order begins across Washington

“Just do not ring up the sale,” Gov. Jay Inslee said about customers who do not don the proper masks.

King County homeless count: 11,751 people, up 5 percent from 2019

One night a year, volunteers spread out across Seattle and King County… Continue reading

Nurse Sylvia Keller, pictured with Gov. Jay Inslee, is on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle in Yakima County. Courtesy photo
Governor doubles down on mask rules

Inslee: Starting July 7, businesses do not serve those who do not wear a mask

State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Politicians get pay raises, state workers get furloughs

A citizens panel approved the hikes in 2019. Unable to rescind them, lawmakers look to donate their extra earnings.

Summer vehicle travel projected to decrease this year

Traffic this summer will likely be lighter across Washington state than previous… Continue reading

Most Read