On Saturday the Washington State Senate passed Sen. Patty Kuderer's revised eviction reform bill. The bill gives tenants 14 days to respond to eviction notices instead of only three days. (Republicans were trying to get this number down to 3 or 5 days.) The legislation scraps attorneys' fees for cases where the tenant owes only two months rent or less, and it also allows a judge to consider surrounding circumstances when issuing a ruling. If, for instance, a tenant couldn't pay the rent due to some temporary financial setback (e.g. medical emergency), a judge could use that information when deciding on the outcome of an eviction case.
Unlike the House version, the Senate's proposal won support from every Democrat—and even five Republicans. The bill will now move back to the House for reconciliation.
Kuderer said she gained bipartisan support through "hard-earned compromise" during "very long hours" of discussion.
Republicans and conservative Democrats signed onto the bill largely thanks to a provision that would expand the purpose of the state's landlord mitigation program to include short term rental assistance.
The state created the fund last year in an effort to convince landlords to rent to people who use rental vouchers. Landlords claim people with Section 8 vouchers break stuff and can't pay for it, so the state set up the fund to reimburse property owners for damages.
Kuderer's bill basically allows the state to pay the landlord for past due rent, and then the tenant would pay back the state on a payment plan established by the court during the eviction hearing. Seems fine.
Because the revision was added late, lawmakers don't know how much the landlord mitigation program extension will cost, but we'll know more once the House takes another look at it in the coming days.
Washington has some of the most landlord friendly laws in the country. A report from the Seattle Women's Commission and the Housing Justice Project found that eviction was the leading cause of homelessness in the state, and a recent study from the University of Washington found that Black and Latino tenants face eviction at much higher rates than white tenants.