- Tim Seth & Bob Brett -
The second session of the 2011-12 Legislative season adjourned following consideration of over 17 bills affecting Washington Landlords. We were disappointed to see Yakima’s bill on criminal activity not make it (HB 2632). We were able to help stop the bill requiring unnecessary disclosure of carbon monoxide hazards (HB 2554), and the bill prohibiting screening companies from reporting domestic violence information and eviction filings (HB 2564). The new requirement on screening criteria disclosure (SSB 6315) passed with the provision of a stakeholder exercise to consider more on report portability and screening costs. Do not hesitate to call WLA on 1-888-753-9150 (or the legislative hotline).
SB 5019-S – Non-conviction Records. Prohibits courts from allowing public access to certain juvenile & adult criminal records. Protects protection orders. Removal of certain criminal histories. Died in Committee
SB 5050- Interest on Deposits. Deposit interest deposited monthly in the Affordable Housing Fund. Died
SB 6291(HB 2541),SB 6292 - Juvenile Records. Addresses the sealing of juvenile records; making juvenile records confidential. Died in Rules
SB 6294- Quorums. Addresses quorum requirements for homeowners’ association meetings. Relaxes strict quorum requirements (eg 50%) to facilitate needed business
Died in Rules
SB 6296- Background Records. Modifies background check provisions relating to: (1) Requests for copies of criminal history record information; (2) Dissemination of conviction record information; (3) Restricted and unrestricted information; and (4) Retaining, on file, a copy of one’s personal non-conviction data information. Repeals the automatic fingerprinting information system. Applicable to State Patrol administration. Adopted and Signed
SSB 6315(HB 2642)- Fair Tenant Screening Act. Addresses the costs and notification requirements for tenant screening under State Landlord-Tenant Act: The original bill proposed:
1) Applicants may submit portable reports (less than 30 days old) in lieu of fees.
2) If screening service is used: landlord must provide applicant with written criteria, name/address of screening company, type of information to be assessed, right to a free report copy (upon any adverse action), has right to dispute.
3) Washington Dept of Commerce will work out industry reporting standards.
4) If adverse action is taken by landlord, written notice must be provided to tenant with reasons for the action (including name, address, telephone of screening company).
5) Applicant-requested reports must be the same as given to the landlord, no charge to applicant in 12-month period.
6) Reports may not include innocent parties of eviction filings and foreclosures.
7) Violations by screening companies subject to $1,000 fines and court costs.
Written originally to accommodate existing large-scale property management operations, this complex and sophisticated recipe (as a “shoe fits all” resolution) unrealistically complicates the process for both large-scale and hands-on landlords and managers in the field. Risks include hapless rental owners doing their own computer screening, or going back to the “good old days” of picking tenants that “look good” (in lieu of using objective bias-free screening data)! WLA was successful in pushing for extensive softening of the regulations and the strict disclosure criteria’s, along with the dropping of the portability requirements of screening reports. However, these issues will be revisited via the bill’s requirement to convene a stakeholder group to further address such matters... including charges for screening! Adopted/Signed
SB 6321(HB 2564) - Court Records. Seals certain protection order and unlawful detainer records.
Died in Sen Rules & House Committees.
SB 6324(HB 2554) - Carbon Monoxide Alarms. Disclosure requirements.. Died in Sen & House Rules
SB 6483(HB 2632) - Criminals in Rentals. (See HB 2632). Passed Senate, Died in House
SB 6608(HB 2798) - Filing Fees. Increases the temporary surcharges on court filing fees by $10. Adopted & Signed
HB 1552-S- Modifies garnishments relating to:
1) Estimated interest on a per diem basis;
2) Form of writ and continuing lien on earnings;
3) Wage exemptions with regard to state minimum wage law;
4) Answer of garnishee; default of judgments;
5) Plaintiff application for judgment and order to pay exparte;
6) Signature by attorney of record on notice to federal government garnishee defendant. Governor Signed
HB 2183- Property Taxation MH Parks. Addresses landlord’s responsibility for property taxes on certain mobile homes/park model trailers. Died in Committee
HB 2194-S- Modifying the MH Landlord Tenant Act. Revises the definition of “Recreational Vehicle” per Chapter 59.30 RCW; amends descriptions, prohibited acts, notifications, enforceable, notice times, nuisances, harm, utilities, etc. Adopted & Signed by Governor
HB 2554(SB 6324) - Obligations as to Carbon Monoxide Alarms. Requires landlords to: (1) provide written notice to tenants stating whether their dwelling unit is equipped with a carbon monoxide alarm; and (2) provide tenants with information as provided or approved by the Department of Health, about the health and safety hazards associated with the exposure to carbon monoxide. Requires tenants to maintain any carbon monoxide alarms installed in their dwelling unit in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. WLA opposes as overkill (the same is not required of smoke alarms, etc.). As an option, landlord representatives should be consulted in the development of Dept of Health information handouts. In Senate hearing, Dept of Health declined any involvement at all (due to lack of funds). Passed in Senate, Died in House Rules
HB 2564(SB 6321) - Seals Court Records. A detailed proposal regarding certain unlawful detainer and protection order records showing conditions where such records are sealed from screening company reports, with severe penalties for breach. WLA regrets this miss-guided attempt to rig tenant selections via censuring (in violation to free-speech/open records laws). Existing law is quite clear in protecting these situations from selection discrimination. Died in Sen Rules & House Committees
HB 2632(SB 6483) - Criminal/Trespass Activities in Rentals. Provides landlords and law enforcement with the tools to identify and expeditiously remove (from rental properties), squatters, gang influences, and those in criminal activities. Pushed by Central Washington landlords, WLA supports. Passed Senate, died in House
HB 2642(SB 6315)- Fair Tenant Screening act (See SB 6315 above).Passed & Signed by Governor
Copies of these bills are available from the Washington State Legislative Information Center: Ph 360-786-7573, web site: www.leg.wa.gov
(Try the Web site, click bill info & enter bill number!)
Call in your legislative concerns on the leg hot line: 1-800-562-6000