Legislative Update

As of February 14, 2012

Fair Tenant Screening Act – HB 2642 & Sub SB 6315

Position: SUPPORT

Before taking an application, the landlord must provide the applicant with either a written notice or a posting that tells the applicant:

  • What types of information will be accessed to conduct the screening;
  • What criteria may result in denial;
  • If a consumer report is used, the name and address of the screening company and the applicant’s right to get a free copy of the report in the event of denial or other adverse action and to dispute the accuracy of information in the report;
  • Landlords may not charge for screening unless this information is provided;
  • If landlord takes adverse action, landlord must give applicant a written Adverse Action Notice substantially in the form provided in the bill;
  • Even landlords who do not use a screening company must comply with these requirements if the landlord charges a fee for the screening;
  • A stakeholder group of landlords, tenant advocates and representatives of screening companies will meet to discuss specified issues and report to legislature by December 1, 2012.

Update: The House Bill is dead and the Substitute Senate bill has a hearing in the House Judiciary on February 15, 2012. The Senate Bill is prime sponsored by Sen. David Frockt (D-North Seattle).

Note: The substitute bill provides features that landlords have offered tenant advocates for the past 3 years. The stakeholder process will be contentious and probably not provide significant results.

 

Preventing Landlords from denying tenancy to certain applicants who have filed eviction lawsuits on their records – HB 2564 & Sub SB 6321

Position: OPPOSE

The substitute Senate bill was introduced at an evening meeting of the Senate Judiciary and passed by the committee. The substitute bill prevents landlords from denying tenancy to an applicant who has 1 or more eviction lawsuits on his/her record that were dismissed before a final judgment was entered. It also applies if the tenant partially prevailed in asserting a defense to an eviction action.

Update: The House Bill is dead. The original Senate Bill was prime sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle) and the Substitute was offered by Sen. Cheryl Pflug (R-Issaquah).

 

Obligation of Landlords and Tenant with respect to carbon monoxide alarm – HB 2554 & SB 6324

Position: Support SB / OPPOSE Sub HB

The Senate bill has passed the Senate in its original form. The House version was amended by the House Judiciary Committee to satisfy tenant objections. The Senate bill requires tenants to have the same responsibility for the maintenance of the carbon monoxide device as they currently do for the smoke detectors; requires landlords to provide safety information (a one page document from the department of health) to the tenants upon move in (as with mold) or in a public location in the building where tenants can see the information easily.

This legislation is supported by the Washington Rental Housing Industry Coalition (WRHIC) and is being led by WMFHA

The amended House bill requires landlords to advise tenants of the tenant’s responsibility to change batteries and requires landlords to give the tenant a copy of the manufacturer’s specifications. It does not put any affirmative obligations on tenants.

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