House talks housing: Tenants, landlords remain divided

  • Monday, February 11, 2019 1:30am
  • News

By Emma Scher

WNPA Olympia News Bureau

A package of bills aimed at reforming eviction practices were considered in the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee last week.

House Bills 1453, 1964 and 1462 would provide protection to tenants by granting courts jurisdiction over unlawful detainer proceedings, allowing tenants to pay nonrefundable fees and holding deposits in installments, and extending notice requirements when a landlord’s change in a property’s use would displace tenants.

Both Republicans and Democrats agree that the homelessness issue and housing “crisis” in Washington need to be addressed this session. A 2017 University of Washington study on evictions found that they disproportionately affect women and people of color.

The bills aim to give more flexibility throughout the rent payment and eviction processes.

“While every part of the state are impacted by this crisis, not all people are impacted equally by it,” said Rep. Melanie Morgan, D-Tacoma —HB 1964’s prime sponsor.

“This bill is about equity and protecting the most vulnerable populations in our community.”

The lawmakers heard opposition to the measures from some landlords and property managers, who warned of increased housing instability if regulations push landlords to sell their properties.

Lyle Crews, president of the Pierce County Chapter of the National Association of Residential Property Managers, argued that raising rent and issuing evictions are sometimes necessary to maintain a profit as a business. If a building is old and not up to code, he said, those repairs need to be made and paid for by someone.

“I think we have to be careful letting emotions drive this,” Crews said. “Business is going to happen and so we have to give landlords a structure to follow, and at times that’s unfortunately going to be to displace people.”

Tim Thomas, a University of Washington sociology professor and principal investigator on the Washington State Evictions Project, spoke to the nuance of the eviction issue.

According to superior court records, more than 130,000 Washingtonians were evicted in the last year, and Thomas believes that it’s a part of broader issues.

“It’s stagnant wages, inadequate welfare, and rising rent that don’t allow people to compete,” Thomas said. “The reason why eviction is so problematic is that it’s reproducing poverty and reinforcing poverty.”

After almost two hours of testimony at a hearing last week, Civil Rights and Judiciary chairwoman Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, criticized the polarization of stakeholders in these bills.

“Every year, I think we’re going to have testimony in which more common ground is found on this topic. And every year, I am shocked by the lack thereof, and disappointed. Deeply, deeply, deeply disappointed,” Jinkins said.

“I would urge all the people who have testified today to try and find more common ground amongst these but we members can find it ourselves.”

More in News

Fundraiser to help bring monument to Forks VFW

Village Concepts of Port Angeles/Park View Villas, hosts a pancake breakfast fundraiser… Continue reading

Public comment extended for Olympic Hot Springs Road environmental assessment

The public comment period for the preliminary alternatives for the upcoming Olympic… Continue reading

A chimney fire started late Tuesday afternoon on the 1800 block of West Washington Street in a log home. Fire officials with Clallam County Fire District 3 say the fire started on accident near the roof and chimney. Photo courtesy of Clallam County Fire District 3
Fire District 3 stops chimney fire Tuesday night

Firefighters helped prevent a chimney fire from spreading in a Sequim log… Continue reading

Senate passes bill to remove the death penalty

By Emma Epperly WNPA Olympia News Bureau The Senate passed a bill… Continue reading

CORRECTED: Lawmakers propose new watercraft restrictions to save southern resident orcas

Bill would establish a 7-knot speed limit for vessels a half-mile from southern resident orcas.

Sequim Public Works begins limited work on clearing sidewalks

The City of Sequim Public Works crew will begin to clear sidewalks… Continue reading

House members propose task force on missing and murdered indigenous women

A recent study reports Seattle is the city with most cases of missing and murdered indigenous women.

Lawmakers seek to improve sexual health education in Washington state

By Madeline Coats WNPA Olympia News Bureau A proposed bill would require… Continue reading

Most Read