As you know, hundreds of thousands of people are behind on rent in Washington, fearful of what will happen when the eviction moratorium is lifted. We must pass just cause (HB 1236) and improve the eviction process (SB 5160) in order to prevent a massive increase in homelessness.
HB 1236 requires landlords to have a legitimate business reason to evict. This bill helps us achieve our goal of improving housing stability by closing loopholes that currently allow landlords to get around all tenant protections. Further, HB 1236 is critical in order for rental assistance to work – without it, landlords can cash a rental assistance check one day, then evict a tenant the next.
The no-cause eviction notices that landlords are allowed to issue (once the moratorium is over) weaken other critical tenant protections including fair housing and retaliation protections. When tenants assert their rights, landlords can respond with no-cause notices to vacate. No-cause notices also allow landlords to hide discriminatory motives. And we know discrimination is all too common.
SB 5160 is critical for tenants facing eviction for nonpayment of rent. It provides low-income tenants access to counsel, ensuring that tenants most at risk of homelessness have support to assert their rights and save their homes. In other parts of the county where the right to counsel exists, 84% of represented households were able to stay housed. SB 5160 also provides other critical protections including realistic payment plans, access to mediation, and protections against future housing denials for tenants unable to pay during the pandemic.
Please take action now!