Status of rental legislation outlined

OLYMPIA — Here is the status of rental legislation as of mid-day Friday, according to information available in bill reports at leg.wa.gov.

House Bill 1389, Senate Bill 5435: The companion bills apply to landlords subject to the Residential Landlord Tenant Act and the Manufactured-Mobile Home Landlord Tenant Act.

In the Senate version, a renter can file legal action against a landlord who is charged and pays rent that exceeds the increase limit to recover damages and attorney fees.

HB 1389: Public hearing held Tuesday in House Housing Committee on Tuesday.

SB 5435: Public hearing held Friday in Senate Housing Committee.

HB 1388: Prohibits a landlord subject to the Residential Landlord Tenant Act and the Manufactured-Mobile Home Landlord Tenant Act from engaging in predatory rent practices through application of the federal Consumer Protection Act.

Those practices would include imposing excessive rent increases, treating monthly renters differently than longer-term tenants and charging excessive move-in fees and deposits defined as exceeding a month’s rent before a tenant moves in.

It applies to manufactured-mobile home parks where tenants rent lots and own their homes.

The Consumer Protection Act prohibits unfair, deceptive acts in trade or commerce.

Charging excessive rent is a predatory practice under the bill. It is defined as a rent increase during a 12-month period that is greater than the inflation rate or 3 percent, whichever is greater, up to 7 percent above the existing rent.

A landlord could not report a tenant to a tenant screening service provider for not paying excessive rent. A landlord who engages in predatory practices could be sued by a tenant for damages.

HB 1388 had a public hearing in the House Housing Committee on Tuesday. Nothing further has been scheduled.

SB 5198, HB 1129: Companion bills require landlords to give tenants three years notice for closure or conversion of a manufactured-mobile home community (MHC) and to give tenants written notice of chance to buy the park when it is being newly sold or newly leased.

It costs $5,000-$10,000 to move a manufactured home, and more for double wides, according to the National Consumer Law Center (nclc.org).

If the home remains in the MHC, the landlord is responsible for demolition or disposal.

A notice of opportunity to purchase is not required if the transaction is among partners or shareholders who own the MHC.

HB 1129: Hearing was Jan. 16 in House Housing Committee, nothing further scheduled;

SB 5198: Executive session in Senate Housing Committee on Wednesday.

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Legislative Reporter Paul Gottlieb, a former senior reporter at Peninsula Daily News, can be reached at cpaulgottlieb@gmail.com.

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