2020 Session Preview: Ending No-Cause Evictions

Washington’s 2020 Legislative Session is just two months away. In that time, we’ll be previewing and unpacking the WA Low Income Housing Alliance agenda and discuss what exactly we’re organizing for the next session. In this issue of the RAP Newsletter, we are exploring SHB 1656: Ending No-Cause Evictions.

Advocating for Stable Homes & Ending No Cause Evictions

In Washington State, landlords do not have to provide or describe a “cause” when kicking someone out of the home. The notice to vacate must be in writing and be served at least 20-days before the last day of the rental period. Although landlords aren’t legally allowed to evict a tenant for a discriminatory or retaliatory reasons, this “hidden” practice still happens all over the state because landlords are not required to describe a legitimate business reason for displacing the tenant.

Some Washington cities have already created laws to end no cause evictions, including Seattle, Burien and Federal Way. And there’s precedent for entire states to pass similar laws as well, with both New Jersey and New Hampshire already having variations of a no-cause eviction law on the books. Federal housing programs often provide “good cause” protection, which prohibits arbitrary termination of tenancy or refusal to renew a lease. Programs with good cause protection include: Project-Based Section 8 buildings and Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) properties.

The Problem:

No-cause evictions are a serious problem statewide because they:

  • A) Directly force people out of their community and into housing instability and homelessness;
  • B) Restrict renters’ access to justice, bypassing the court system in which the renter could otherwise make an argument to keep their home;
  • C) Makes tenants more fearful to organize or raise concerns with issues happening on the property; and
  • D) Often hide underlying discrimination or retaliation by the landlord.

Proposed Solution:  

Simple: Ban the practice of displacing people from their homes without cause! The details of the proposed bill will continue to be worked out leading up to and during the session. But at its roots, we’re calling on our elected officials to pass a law that requires a landlord to describe a legitimate business reason before forcing a tenant to vacate their home.

Did this happen to you?

Have you ever received a 20-day “no cause” notice to vacate your home? Do you know someone who has? The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance would love to connect with you and anyone who has experienced this loophole in our renter protections firsthand.

With your help, we can make 2020 the year our decision-makers outlaw no-cause evictions in Washington.

If you have received a no-cause eviction, we are asking for your help to go towww.evictedwithoutcause.com and complete the form on the page. We will follow up with you to learn more and discuss how we can build power to outlaw no-cause evictions! Please share the link widely, and if you have any questions or would like to learn more about our efforts, please contact John Stovall at johns@wliha.org.

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