What does the Washington State Bill 5160 mean for a Landlord
In April 2021, the Senate Bill 5160 “LANDLORD-TENANT RELATIONS” took effect in the Washington State and reformed landlord tenant in the aftermath of COVID pandemic. This article covers what the bill means for the Tenant. What the bill means for a tenant is covered here.
Rent Payment Protections During COVID
For unpaid rent for the period March 1st 2020 (roughly the start of COVID) to March 31s 2021 (Six months after moratorium expires), a landlord cannot:
- Ask for any fees
- Take any action or evict a tenant
Discrimination based on Medical History
A landlord may not refuse an application for a rental apartment based on a tenant’s medical history. The landlord may not ask for any kind of medical records to see if the tenant has been in contact with the COVID-19 virus unless it is for a repayment plan.
The landlord is also allowed to accept rent payment granted to tenant by the government or a charitable organizations. The landlord cannot make the apartment unavailable in any case.
In case a repayment plan is agreed, then the landlord must abide by it. If the landlord does not act according to the repayment plan, then he will be punished by the court.
Rent Assistance Program
The landlord can get funds from the department to pay for unpaid rent. The landlord mitigation fund is created and used by the department for landlords. The department will decide whether the landlord is eligible for the fund. If the apartment is damaged and the landlord wants the fund to make repairs, he has to pay the first 500 dollars to be reimbursed by the department for 1000 dollars. The department will pay the landlord if the tenant fails to accept the conditions of the repayment plan. The landlord can file a report against the tenant if he accepts the repayment plan and still doesn’t pay.
Reimbursement application form
The landlord can get the mitigation fund form from the department’s website. The landlord and the tenant have to read the form carefully and agree to its terms before signing it. From March 11, 2020, or six months before the eviction’s expiration date, the landlord is not permitted to pay for any damages or seek unpaid rent. The landlord is not allowed to send a different person to the tenant to ask for any kind of rent. The landlord is allowed to ask for payment if the tenant and landlord have signed an alternative repayment plan.
A landlord who receives compensation from the programme is forbidden from:
- Filing a lawsuit against the tenant for damages related to the same tenancy.
- Seeking payment of a judgement against the tenant for damages related to the same tenancy, or permitting another business to do so on the landlord’s behalf.
Reimbursements for Damages repair
If the repayment plan is agreed upon by both the tenant and the landlord, and they have both fulfilled its requirements, then the landlord is to make repairs and ask the department for compensation. A landlord can make repaires and ask to be reimbursed by the deparatement. The landlord has to submit an official compensation form. The landlord can get reimbursement for unpaid rent and unpaid utilities if he can provide evidence for that.
If the department has provided the landlord with the funds, then the department will inform the tenant on their behalf. The landlord can get the full rent if the tenant has good income. The landlord will not get the fund if the tenant has left the apartment. The landlord and the tenant have to check the apartment for damages before signing the contract. The landlord has to make repairs to the damaged apartment before applying for the reimbursement.
The department will reply to the application of reimbursement within 14 days. If the department doesn’t reply, then the landlord should apply again for the reimbursement. The landlord can apply for the reimbursement if the tenancy is up to 500 dollars. The landlord who has been accepted for the mitigation fund can send someone else to the tenant on behalf of the landlord to get the rent. The landlord mitigation fund is created by the department of treasury.
Tenant doesn’t pay the rent after receiving Rental Assistance
Here are the steps a landlord can take.
- the landord can inform the tenant that the landlord will be filing a report. The landlord must keep some proof that the tenant was informed
- When filing a report, the landlord has to mention the tenants’ contact information.
- The landlord should ask the tenant to pay the rent or vacate the occupied apartment.
- The landlord should have a certificate of participation in the eviction programme before the hearing in court.
- The landlord should provide all related information to the court before the final hearing of the eviction program. If there isn’t any fund available for reimbursement then the department has to provide landlords with a waitlist and create and maintain funds for them to use. The payments claimed from the waitlist shall only be made by landlord mitigation form.