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Washington renters could get more protections in 2020

(Unsplash/Brandon Griggs)

The 2020 legislative session beginning Monday may see a push to make it more difficult for landlords to evict tenants in Washington state, done so as a means of lessening homelessness.

Gaining stricter protections for tenants and requiring landlords to give just cause for eviction has been a growing movement across Washington state, reports Crosscut. Using recent city ordinances in Federal Way and Burien as templates, legislators are seeking a statewide standard in similar renter’s protections.

“Right now, if you’re a landlord you can evict somebody with 20-day notice without any justification,” KIRO Radio’s Tom Tangney said. “There are 23 other states that have already that you need to have just cause. Right now the only way landlords are restricted is that they can’t do it for discriminatory purposes; however, if you operate by the 20-day rule that says ‘I don’t have to give you any reason’, they can use that as a cover and you don’t know if it’s discriminatory.”

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The proposed standards would require landlords to give good or just cause, covering up to 18 cited issues by Tenants Union, including nonpayment of rent, noncompliance with lease terms, and chronically late rent payments, among other reasons. Landlords would not be able to evict for retaliatory or discriminatory reasons. Recent studies have indicated a correlation between evictions and growing rates of homelessness.

“It goes back to the story of whether or not a person who own the property can get the person out of the unit in a timely manner to keep everybody safe, or at least allow the landlord to keep having money coming in for the property,” said co-host John Curley.

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Critics of the proposed standards cite this very issue, and are concerned such protections would make it difficult for landlords to evict problem tenants who create difficult situations for residents and landlords. An additional concern is that such legislation could unintentionally push out smaller landlords in favor of larger corporations, since only the larger ones would be able to absorb such sweeping changes.

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