Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, and Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, are co-sponsoring legislation that would support tenants’ rights and make housing more affordable to renters in Washington. A public hearing is scheduled for both bills this Thursday, Jan. 23 in the Senate Financial Institutions, Housing & Insurance Committee at 1:30 p.m. in Senate Hearing Room 2.

If enacted, SB 6291 would streamline the process of tenant screenings by potential landlords by allowing a prospective tenant to obtain a single standardized comprehensive screening report and use it when applying to rent housing for up to 30 days without being charged a tenant screening fee by the landlord. The comprehensive report would include consumer, criminal and eviction history. If a landlord wished to use a different report, the landlord would have to pay the expense themselves.

“One of the biggest costs of finding new housing is paying all the application fees for every prospective rental property,” Frockt said. “It’s especially tough in fast-moving rental markets where you might have to apply for many properties to find one that’s open. Moving into new housing is expensive enough as is, and it’ll make the process easier on people if we have a standard form and prospective renters only have to pay one screening fee.”

SB 6292 would require notice of rent increases 90 days prior, up from 30 days currently, as well as provide tenant relocation assistance to a broader base of renters.

“This bill would enact common sense changes that would give tenants fair warning of changes to their rent, and more comprehensive assistance if they have to move,” Kohl-Welles said. “In this climate, 30 days is not enough notice to plan ahead if your rent is going to go up too high and you have to move.” This bill arose in part from what happened to tenants at Lockhaven Apartments in Ballard when they received eviction notices so that the management could remodel or renovate their units followed by enormous rent increases.

In local jurisdictions that require landlords to provide assistance when a tenant must move, especially due to a rent increase or a change of situation, currently only those who earn up to 50 percent of area median income may receive this assistance. SB 6292 would increase the availability for those who earn up to 80 percent.