Legislature Puts Washington Landlords At Risk

19 Replies

In an effort to address the housing crisis the Washington State Legislature has numerous bills to consider, most all of which limit a landlord’s ability to conduct business and preserve their financial investment.  Landlord’s must be informed and respond to the legislature to protect our rights as property owners and business people. 

While these proposals are perhaps good intentioned (?) to help tenants stay in their home, it is my opinion that these laws will further exasperate the housing crisis leading to higher rental rates and fewer rental options on the open market -especially for the marginal tenant.

DO NOT BE SILENT! Lawmakers need to hear from individual private landlords and hear your story of how these laws will impact your ability to conduct business, provide much needed housing, and keep rents reasonable. 

Look up your representatives for your residence as well as where you have property: https://app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder/

Among the most serious issues are: SUBSTITUTE SENATE BILL 5600: http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2019-20/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Bills/5600-S.pdf

1. Judicial Discretion is given to the judge to determine if the defendant should be evicted and when –regardless of the validity of your claim.  It removes the rule of law in favor of an arbitrary decision based on emotion or other arbitrary factors, and there is no remedy for the landlord if the judge rules in the defendant’s favor.

2. Just Cause: Leases do not terminate and you cannot remove a tenant without Just Cause.

Closely aligned with the Just Cause provision, the 20 day notice to terminate may be removed or replaced with a 60 day notice.

120 Day Notice to terminate if you are substantially changing the use or major remodel (see Tacoma’s new provisions: https://www.cityoftacoma.org/cms/One.aspx?pageId=163079).

14 day Notice to Pay or Vacate instead of the historical 3 Day Notice.

Redefines “Rent”: Fees and Deposits may not count toward rent and therefore cannot be evicted for non-payment.

Landlord required to accept 3 equal installments for Security deposit.

Attorney’s fees, etc may only be collected on an evicted tenant only after proving they did not act in good faith instead of merely hardship.

... And yes, there is much more! If you want a sample letter/email to send your representative let me know, I'll send to you what I forwarded to the housing committee members.  

i hear you, Curtis. Support your local and state LL Associations for sure.

Another nice little benefit to us commercial and potentially residential plex investors is the cap gain tax proposal of 9%.  I think I'm exchanging  out of dodge.  This year.

@Curtis Bidwell , thanks for sharing. I swear, with most everything I have done in my life time, I always seem to be a day late and a dollar short on when it comes to timing! I have just recently started to switch gears/direction on how I am moving forward in my REI career. Just starting to acquire buy and hold properties instead of focusing on flipping. Nevertheless, regardless of what comes our way as @Steve Vaughan , mentioned we need to stay plugged into our local and state wide networks for helping us to protect our selves.  It is quite obvious in today's society that our ELECTED officials aren't interested in doing that for us.  GR8 podcast by the way! Thanks again Curtis for the info.  Here's to wishing you nothing but GR8 success in your REI future! 

sadly I actually wrote the author of the bill and provided numerical examples of how badly this will hurt landlords and I received NOTHING in response.  sad to say, this isn't about what is just and fair its all political grandstanding.  someone pointed me to a youtube video of an activist in OR, who summarized it well.  in essence the activist said they do not want small time landlords because they are too difficult to deal with (i.e. we vote).  they want the big RE developers because they have more control over them (i.e. you want to build new property, you have to bend to our rules).  Frankly, the politicians are just too stupid to understand this type of bill will KILL the development of new housing and therefore make the house crisis worse.  you just can't fix stupid......

@Curtis Bidwell Great post. While I haven't invested in WA yet, I'm a trained political scientist and have worked on a federal Representative's staff. It might be worthwhile for the local REIAs and other groups to request office calls with legislators. In my experience, legislators naturally took group meetings more seriously than a couple of letters or phone calls. Although I haven't done so in a while, a meeting with a state legislator *should* be easier than a federal one. The general public goes straight to federal representatives more often to assist navigating agencies, even if it's a state agency. 

@Mike R. That stinks. How long ago did you send it? State legislators have very small staffs and sometimes take a while to catalog notes from constituents. Legislators have a responsibility to respond to constituents, but some will be better than others. The best ones develop strict in-house policies to send custom responses back and bring up issues that multiple people have asked about straight to the member. I worked for one of these guys. Others may not see it as important; the trick is to clearly articulate your stance, provide a personal example or "what-if" and then clearly request a response to a specific question. You can attempt to call or get your local networking club to go to their office too. Good luck!

Judges discretion means it is completely unpredictable and that 'thing' could be stuck to your shoe for a long time! Get out and make yourself heard!

@Steve Vaughan Yes, support the associations that have lobbyist! I spent all day Wednesday at the legislature with the Washington Landlord Assoc (walandlord.org/), our state's largest Landlord group.  We had a bullet-point handout with pros and cons of various bills that we took to each office along with our handwritten notes of personal experience, testimonial, concerns, etc.  We had several lawmakers speak to us and take our comments as well (from both sides of the isle - just not the ones we needed the most -the Seattle-Tacoma ideologues pushing the agenda)

Unfortunately this is more ideologically driven than pragmatically designed.  It won't help the ones they claim to represent, but will instead create even higher rents and fewer options for the ones that need it most. But, hey, it makes great sound bites that they have created "protections for suffering tenants at the expense of wealthy landlords". 

And Yes, @Eugene M. it is much easier to get a meeting with a state rep.  Just call in advance to schedule (1-2 weeks).    

@Mike R. I think you hit the nail on the head! I've been saying this for a few years now, those in power want to turn housing into a "right" that must be provided, and only the government is capable of doing it 'right'.  Get rid of the little guys that are hard to control and consolidate into the corporate conglomerates with deep pockets or government housing, just like they did with insurance companies in Washington several years ago.  and we see how well that worked.  Fewer insurers, higher premiums, less options.  

We need a response like the hairdressers did just over a week ago when thier livelihood was on the chopping block!  The lawmakers are still talking about that!  When their constituents show up in force they listen because that translates to votes for reelection.  

@Mike R. I suspect you guys in WA are not really in tuned to Portlandia.. 

but in the same vein.  the city of Portlandia pass an inclusion statue that dictated that any new MF of greater than 20 units must include a % of low income units.. well mad rush to get plans through and approved.

since that went into law there has not been ONE application for a new MF.. NOT ONE. so there you go. exactly your point. private sector is not going to fix this housing issue.. if they want cheap affordable housing instead instead of trying to cram it down the throats of investors they get nothing.. there are bond issues and tax credit for this stuff they need to stick to that.

@Jay Hinrichs   Actually I do watch it a bit.  And I feel for our southern friends!  I have a brother in Salem who got into multifamily a few years ago, after he sold his business.  I watched what they did to Portland the last 2 years and are now doing to the whole state!  Similar here.  What happens in Seattle/Tacoma becomes the legislative ideal for the state.  

Fortunately, unlike Oregon, we don't have a State-Wide Rent Control bill this year... but I can see it coming!  

Originally posted by @Curtis Bidwell :

@Jay Hinrichs  Actually I do watch it a bit.  And I feel for our southern friends!  I have a brother in Salem who got into multifamily a few years ago, after he sold his business.  I watched what they did to Portland the last 2 years and are now doing to the whole state!  Similar here.  What happens in Seattle/Tacoma becomes the legislative ideal for the state.  

Fortunately, unlike Oregon, we don't have a State-Wide Rent Control bill this year... but I can see it coming!  

 the state wide one is pretty much a non event as long as your at market now.. it allows 7% increase a year PLUS CPI. and most landlords have rode up the rent increase's and they have pretty much topped out.. 

where its going to get dicy is those wanting to reposition properties with under market rents.. you know the ones everyone goes for .. :)

and the other tough one for Portland proper is the having to pay 4k to move a tenant under certain circumstances.

but hey in certain cities in  the Bay area it can cost 20 to 50k to get a tenant to move..   But hey the folks voted in those running the railroad.. 

For those of you interested in getting involved or signing up for a LL association.  I have taken the liberty to get a few links that may be of interest to you, check them out.  The 2nd one is helpful in the fact that it has a break down by your town/area.  Get involved!  Good luck everyone. The links as promised:

https://walandlord.org/ ( Washington LL associations) Curtis listed this one above.

http://www.rhol.com/rental/WA/waassoc.asp (This is more of a list that is localized)

@Curtis Bidwell West Coast landlords are under attack. Here in CA we beat Prop 10 last year but now that OR passed a statewide RC bill and WA considering “just cause”, I’m afraid we’ll see Prop 10 2.0 next year in 2020. 

Activism, organizing a rebuttal really helps. I must have told 200 friends/family to vote no.

No on Prop 10 raised 8x the amount of money vs Yes on 10. 

And here I was relieved that I had exited Oregon in 2018 so dodged a bullet. But no, I exchanged for 4 units in WA. This is liberal WA so I feel that all of these horrors will come to pass. We were going to look for our next project soon and will do so elsewhere. As soon as I heard of the 14 day pay or quit change and the fact that the OR rent control was being applauded I knew it was time to go. Since we invest in SF for the most part, if we divest ourselves it is probable that those homes will turn into owner occupied rather than rentals. Win for tenants right? Who needs a good, fair landlord who charges reasonable rents and keeps things working.

If I could just get off these 80 hour workweeks at the day job I'd be in Olympia protesting. Thank you for giving me a go to place to see what is coming up. 

@Curtis Bidwell Let me know if you need more landlords showing up to talk to Legislators, attend hearings, etc. I'm a former Legislative staffer and now involved in local politics. You're already doing everything that I would suggest, along with the Landlord Association. If they can do something similar to the hairdressers' rally, that would be great. (Yes, everyone has been talking about how effective that was.) 

@Sharon Rosendahl   You don't have to go to Olympia, we just need everyone to send an email and follow up with a phone call!  

If you don't know who your legislators are, go to  https://app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder/.  put in your address and your 3 reps will pop up with email & phone #.  Send them a concise (bullet point) email of your concerns and HOW IT WILL IMPACT TENANTS (remember, they don't care how it impacts YOU!).  Then follow up the next day with a phone call to reiterate your concerns to the aid that answers.  

Thanks, @Tiffany Johnson   If your available to be on campus, definitely touch base with the appropriate legislators and offer your input.  

If anyone can go on Thursday the 29th, the tenant union will be there.  If we can show that they are not the only voice (loud as they are!) it will go a long way.  

SIDE NOTE:  My complex got blanketed this week with anti-landlord flyers trying to unite tenants against landlords, gentrification, discrimination and rent.  

I will follow up with a letter showing the other side and encourage tenants to speak to the legislators to not impose destructive measures that will increase rent and make housing less available to the most vulnerable.  

Hey there @Curtis Bidwell , thanks for the thread. Sadly, I've been pretty complacent with these new bills. I can see how some of the laws currently in effect in Washington state can at times be unfair to tenants, especially in recent years as investors are repositioning assets to maximize rents and values. In light of that, some legislative changes to even the field a bit would be fair. HOWEVER, some of the proposed changes, and you've highlighted the most egregious, are not fair. They're anti-landlord! If you send me a letter, I'd gladly sign on and communicate your thoughts and mine to my legislators.

Thanks!

Hi @Curtis Bidwell ,

Please forward sample email/letter. I will follow up with my reps accordingly.

Thank you!

Nate

Originally posted by @Tony Wooldridge :

@Curtis Bidwell , thanks for sharing. I swear, with most everything I have done in my life time, I always seem to be a day late and a dollar short on when it comes to timing! I have just recently started to switch gears/direction on how I am moving forward in my REI career. Just starting to acquire buy and hold properties instead of focusing on flipping. Nevertheless, regardless of what comes our way as @Steve Vaughan , mentioned we need to stay plugged into our local and state wide networks for helping us to protect our selves.  It is quite obvious in today's society that our ELECTED officials aren't interested in doing that for us.  GR8 podcast by the way! Thanks again Curtis for the info.  Here's to wishing you nothing but GR8 success in your REI future! 

I was born and raised in Seattle. I made lots & lots in real estate in Seattle. The laws changed. My rentals were in Seattle. I was constantly hassled by the city. They have lots and lots of money to hassle you with. I was weak. (Or, Wise) and I sold my rentals. I moved to Arizona. They like landlords in Arizona. I am happy. Happy ending. End of story.

Updated 4 months ago

P.S. Seattle has fewer rentals now because the people who bought my rentals were first time homeowners and moved into the homes. Too bad for whoever it put out on the street. Please kiss your Seattle City Council members where the sun don't shine, in gratitude. You voted for them.

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