Resolution in Support
for Reform of Washington State Landlord – Tenant Law
adopted February 20, 2019 by the KCBA Board of Trustees
WHEREAS, in September 2018 the Seattle Women’s Commission and the King County Bar Association’s Housing Justice Project completed a study (the Study) of 2017 eviction actions in Seattle;
WHEREAS, the Study found that a majority of evictions filed were for non-payment of less than one month’s rent;
WHEREAS, the Study found that a majority of tenants falling behind on rent did so due to an unforeseen circumstance such as a medical issue, loss of a job or a death in the family.
WHEREAS, the Study established most who fell behind in rent were threatened with eviction within 1-3 days of failing to pay the full month’s rent.
WHEREAS, the Study confirmed that evictions disproportionately impact low-income individuals and families and people of color;
WHEREAS, the Study indicated that most tenants who are evicted become homeless;
WHEREAS, several recommendations were made by the Study to make the eviction process more equitable to tenants while still protecting the rights of landlords.
WHEREAS, reform of the eviction process would reduce the number of tenants becoming homeless due to a one-time medical emergency, temporary loss of employment or other setback.
WHEREAS, the King County Bar Association commends local private companies such as the Seattle Mariners and Microsoft for their philanthropic leadership in establishing a rent stabilization fund to assist tenants facing eviction due to an unforeseen circumstance;
WHEREAS, reform of the eviction process would provide more options for tenants to reinstate their tenancy after a judgment has been entered and paid, and provide tenants with more than three-days-notice before a Writ of Unlawful Detainer is issued;
WHEREAS, such reform may significantly reduce the number of tenants being evicted and entering the homeless and shelter systems;
WHEREAS, the cost of preserving tenancies is significantly less than the cost of the eviction process and/or rehousing individuals once evicted.
RESOLVED, that the King County Bar Association supports legislative reform of current landlord-tenant law.
RESOLVED, the King County Bar Association supports and urges changes at the state and local level to extend the notice period in eviction cases, increase discretion for courts to consider mitigating factors, and provide equitable protections for landlords; and
RESOLVED, the King County Bar Association urges local and state governments to support eviction defense as a critical component to homelessness prevention.