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HB 1236 – JUST CAUSE EVICTIONS

Found on Robert R. Rowley PS website:

http://rowleylegal.com/hb-1236-just-cause-evictions/

EFFECTIVE APRIL 28, 2021

Cause Required for Eviction, Refusal to Renew, and Ending a Tenancy.

If a rental agreement provides for the tenancy to continue for an indefinite period after the agreement expires, a landlord may end the tenancy at the end of the initial period without cause if the initial rental term is between six months and one year and the landlord provides the tenant with at least 60 days’ written notice. When a rental agreement is for a specified period and does not continue for an indefinite period or on a month-to-month basis after the specified period expires, the landlord may end the tenancy without cause only if:

  • the initial agreement is for one year or more, or the landlord and tenant have continuously entered into successive rental agreements of six months or more since the inception of the tenancy;
  • the landlord provides at least 60 days’ written notice to the tenant before the end of the specified period; and
  • the tenancy has not been for an indefinite period on a month-to-month or periodic basis at any point unless a rental agreement was entered into for a monthly or periodic tenancy between the effective date of this act and three months following the expiration of the Governor’s eviction moratorium.

For all other tenancies of a specified period, and for tenancies on a monthly or periodic basis, a landlord may not end the tenancy except for one of the enumerated causes. A tenant may end a tenancy for a specified time by providing written notice 20 days prior to the end date of the specified period.

The following reasons constitute cause for a landlord to evict, refuse to continue a tenancy, or end a periodic tenancy:

  1. failure to pay rent (14-day notice);
  2. substantial breach of a material program requirement of subsidized housing, material term of rental agreement, or tenant obligation imposed by law that has not been remedied (10-day notice);
  3. committing or permitting waste or nuisance, unlawful activity that affects the use and
  4. enjoyment of the premises, or other substantial or repeated interference with the use and enjoyment of the premises (3-day notice);
  5. landlord, in good faith, seeks possession so that the owner or his or her immediate family may occupy the unit as the principal residence and no substantially equivalent unit is vacant and available (90-day notice);
  6. owner elects to sell the premises, a single-family residence (90-day notice);
  7. premises to be demolished, substantially rehabilitated, or change of use (120-day notice);
  8. owner elects to withdraw the premises from the rental market to pursue a conversion (120-day notice);
  9. premises are condemned by a local agency (30-day notice, or less if continued habitation would subject the landlord to criminal or civil penalties);
  10. service of notice to quit or vacate by the owner or lessor with whom the tenant shares the dwelling unit or access to a common kitchen or bathroom area (20-day notice);
  11. transitional housing program expires, the tenant ages out of a program, or the tenant has completed a program and is no longer eligible (30-day notice);
  12. rental agreement has expired, the landlord proffers a new rental agreement at least 30 days prior to the expiration, and the tenant does not sign;
  13. intentional and knowing misrepresentation or omission of material information on the tenant’s application that, had the misrepresentations or omissions not been made, would have caused the landlord to request additional information or take adverse action (30-day notice);
  14. other good cause which constitutes a legitimate economic or business reason (60-day notice);
  15. four or more violations of a substantial breach of a subsidized housing requirement, material term of the lease, or tenant obligation under law that were cured by the tenant within the previous 12-month period and the landlord provided a written notice for each violation (60-day notice);
  16. required to register as a sex offender during the tenancy, or failed to disclose a requirement to register as a sex offender when required in the rental application or otherwise known to the property owner at the beginning of the tenancy (60-day notice); and
  17. makes unwanted sexual advances or commits other acts of sexual harassment directed at the property owner, manager, employee, or another tenant based on race, gender, or protected status in violation of a lease term or covenant (20-day notice).

Notices must identify the facts and circumstances known and available to the landlord at the time the notice is issued that support the cause or causes with enough specificity so as to enable the tenant to respond. The landlord may present other evidence regarding the allegations within the notice where the evidence was unknown or unavailable at the time the notice was issued.

Remaining Occupants.

Where a tenant permanently vacates for reasons other than the ending of the tenancy by the landlord, and occupants co-resided with the tenant prior to and up to the tenant’s vacation with the landlord’s approval, the landlord must serve a notice to the remaining occupants at least six months before the tenant vacates, requiring the remaining occupants to either apply to become a party to the rental agreement or vacate within 30 days. If the occupant fails to apply within 30 days or the application is denied, the landlord may commence an unlawful detainer action. These new provisions regarding occupants are not applicable to subsidized housing tenancies.

Enforcement Remedies.

A landlord who removes a tenant or causes a tenant to be removed from a dwelling in violation of the provisions specifying enumerated causes for eviction or refusal to renew or end a tenancy is liable to the tenant for wrongful eviction and the greater of: (1) the tenant’s economic and noneconomic damages; or (2) three times the monthly rent, as well as reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. The existing statutory damages available for inclusion in the rental agreement of prohibited provisions are increased from $500 to two times the monthly rent, and the landlord must have “knowingly,” instead of “deliberately,” included such provisions.

Conforming Sections and Definitions.

Other sections are amended to reflect the new section providing the only causes cognizable under the RLTA:

  • Language in the RLTA that allows a landlord to end a periodic or monthly tenancy with 20-days’ notice is stricken.
  • Language in the RLTA, which provides that where premises are rented for a specified time, the tenancy shall be deemed expired at the end of the specified time, is amended to provide for exceptions as limited by the act.
  • The definition of “unlawful detainer” found in a chapter separate from the RLTA, chapter 59.12 RCW, and which is applicable to tenancies under the RLTA as well as other tenancies, is amended to refer to the new provisions.
  • The terms “immediate family,” “subsidized housing,” and “transitional housing” are defined in the RLTA.

Session Law:

http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2021-22/Pdf/Bills/House%20Passed%20Legislature/1236-S.PL.pdf#page=1

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