Taking action to interrupt the cycle of homelessness before it begins, the Washington state Senate today passed legislation that would require 14 days notice to evict a tenant.
Senate Bill 5600, sponsored by Sen. Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue), also expands legal access for tenants and standardizes the requirements for an eviction notice. The current requirement notice for an eviction is three days. With many people living paycheck to paycheck, that provides scant time to recover from a significant unexpected expense such as a car repair or medical bill, and stay current with rent payments.
“We have heard definitively from experts, and from those directly impacted, that evictions are the leading cause of homelessness in Washington state,” said Kuderer. “When the Senate formed the new Housing Stability & Affordability Committee, we redirected our statewide approach on homelessness to include prevention. This legislation is a significant step in that direction.”
Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have notice periods longer than three days. Among those, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Tennessee, Vermont, and Wisconsin have implemented a fourteen-day notice.
SB 5600 would also require uniform eviction notices written in plain language available to landlords for use that includes information on civil legal aid resources available to tenants and where to find translated copies of the notices.
“The eviction process can be complicated and overwhelming for anyone facing the possibility of homelessness,” said Kuderer. “Simplifying language is about more than conveying information to tenants, it is about increasing accessibility to a legal system in which they have every right to participate.”
Passage comes thanks to hard-earned compromise from a broad coalition of support, including tenant advocates and property owners. Additional reforms to the eviction process in the bill include the use of judicial discretion in cases over rent. requiring consideration of factors beyond the control of tenants in nonpayment, and allows landlords to recover some funds through the Department of Commerce’s mitigation fund.
The Senate approved SB 5600 on a bipartisan vote of 31-15 and now moves to the House for consideration.