Macri’s just cause eviction bill passes House

OLYMPIA—The Washington House of Representatives today passed legislation introduced by Rep. Nicole Macri ending no-cause evictions by requiring landlords to provide rental tenants a legitimate business reason to end their tenancy.

“The bill before us is simple—it requires landlords to provide a reason to tenants when they ask them to move out of their home.  I want to be clear—stopping evictions means preventing homelessness.,” said Macri on final passage of the bill.

Under a just cause standard, landlords will maintain all the rights they currently possess to end a tenancy or to evict a tenant, they simply need to disclose a reason for doing so and give the appropriate time.

It does not require a landlord to renew a lease with a tenant upon expiration of the lease, and a tenant denying to sign a new lease is a cause to end a tenancy under the “other good cause” provisions of the bill. Landlords will also retain their right to make business or personal decisions about how to use their rental property.

The legislation gives a tenant the right to defend themselves by ensuring the landlord has to cite a legitimate cause to evict. Macri stated that her bill, “helps ensure that the rental assistance the legislature has already provided will be used for its intended purpose: keeping people in their homes and allowing landlords to collect their rent.”

HB 1236 outlines many legitimate business reasons available to a landlord to legally terminate a tenancy, including: nonpayment of rent, unlawful activity, destruction of the property, substantially violating the lease agreements, repeated interferences with the use and enjoyment of the property, and more.

No-cause evictions that require tenants to leave the property in 20 days deny justice for renters as there is enormous potential for discrimination when a landlord can evict without having to cite any reason. The House Housing, Human Services and Veterans Committee heard testimony from renters who received no-cause eviction notices after asserting their legal rights or asking for basic things like repairs. Additionally, Black renters are evicted at significantly higher rates than white renters in Washington. “Communities of color disproportionately rely on rental housing to keep a roof over their head,” said Macri.

She continued, “The COVID-19 pandemic exposed that the status quo is leaving too many vulnerable. We cannot go back to a system where renters can easily be forced into homelessness for no fault of their own. That’s just not fair.”