Governor gives protections to tenants, reduces help for landlords
April 29, 2021
Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law an automatic right for tenants to have an attorney, though it came with a catch — Inslee sent back two parts of the bill regarding landlord rental assistance.
In a memo after the April 22 bill signing, Inslee said the measure lacked guidance for how landlords could qualify for the rental assistance.
“It creates an entitlement for landlords to receive rent assistance without a sufficient framework to prioritize resources to those landlords who have the greatest need,” Inslee wrote in the release.
The amendments addressed issues he already took care of in another bill signed this session, Inslee wrote. HB 1368 includes $2 million in grant opportunities for eligible landlords, he said.
Rep. Michelle Caldier, R-Port Orchard, who sponsored the amendments Inslee vetoed, said she was disappointed in the governor’s action; Caldier’s amendments would have allocated another $7 million specifically for landlords.
“I find it odd that the governor has vetoed language his own agency provided to me and that I worked in good faith to have added to the bill,” Caldier said.
The new law includes a June 30 end to a year-long eviction moratorium passed last year, which had been added to the bill. More than 200,000 Washingtonians are behind on rent and face eviction, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
“We’re looking at a cliff come June 30 with thousands of families at risk of entering into homelessness,” Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, the bill’s main sponsor. “The provisions in SB 5160 will certainly help, but more time is needed to get all the resources in place. We are working with the governor and other interested parties to determine how much time is needed to ensure we don’t see a wave of evictions on July 1.”
The original bill added another two years to the eviction moratorium, which many Republican lawmakers said would hurt landlords who could not survive another two years.
SB 5160 will also make Washington the first state to secure an automatic right to counsel for tenants, which supporters say will help balance power be