WASHINGTON

NOTE: The following information is for reference only and does not constitute the provision of legal advice. Please contact us to schedule an appointment to discuss the specifics of your situation.

NEW NOTICE REQUIREMENT FOR FAILURE TO PAY RENT

If a tenant is late in paying rent, the landlord must give the tenant a 14-Day Notice to Pay or Vacate. The tenant then has 14 days to pay the rent. After that, the landlord may file an eviction lawsuit. The new law also includes a mandatory 14-Day Notice to Pay or Vacate form that landlords must use.

JUDGES NOW HAVE DISCRETION TO ARRANGE PAYMENT PLANS

 

Previously, once an eviction lawsuit started, most tenants could not stay—even if they could pay the landlord all the back-rent, late fees, and attorney fees that they owed. Under the new laws, judges have more flexibility to create payment plans that work for both tenants and landlords.

TENANTS CANNOT BE EVICTED FOR NOT PAYING CHARGES THAT ARE NOT "RENT"

 

Previously, landlords could take a tenant’s rent payments and apply them towards other kinds of “non-rent” charges – late fees, disputed repair bills, other kinds of one-time penalties. Now, landlords must apply a tenant’s rent payments toward rent (and some regular, monthly utility payments) first. 

Landlords can still try to evict a tenant if they fall behind on rent (after giving a 14-Day Notice) but they cannot evict a tenant for falling behind on “non-rent” fees and penalties. (Landlords can still sue to try to collect these charges later, for example, in Small Claims Court).

LIMITS ON ATTORNEY FEES

 

Previously, even if a tenant lost an eviction lawsuit by default (because they did not respond in time or appear at a hearing, the landlord could still collect attorneys fees from them through an eviction judgment. Now, attorneys cannot collect fees in a default judgment. Attorney fees are also limited in cases where tenants owe less than two months’ rent or less than $1,200.

SERVICE OF EVICTION PLEADINGS 

 

Landlords may be able to post and mail eviction pleadings after making three diligent attempts (over two days) to serve a tenant in person without a judge’s permission.

RENT INCREASES

 

Previously, a landlord could give a written notice 30 days in advance to raise the rent on a month-to-month tenant. Now, landlords must give at least 60 days’ notice (in almost all cases). Also, landlords cannot raise rent during the middle of a rental period (unless the tenant lives in certain subsidized housing units where rent changes when the tenant's income changes).

120 DAYS' NOTICE REQUIRED BEFORE MAJOR RENOVATIONS

 

Previously, a developer who wanted to change an apartment’s use or completely renovate it could give all month-to-month tenants 20 days’ notice before ending their tenancies. Now, landlords must give tenants 120 days’ notice before making major changes to the use of an apartment building or completely remodeling it (and making everyone leave).

© 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 Martin & Richards, PLLC