"Three Days Is Not Enough" - Landlords Support Eviction Reform

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Tara Nelson manages eight rental properties in northwest Washington, using the income to provide in-home support for an elderly parent.  Tara supports HB1453/SB5600, which will reform the eviction process to increase the amount of time a tenant has to pay the rent.


Last year, I rented to a 20-year acquaintance of mine in Mount Vernon, “Matt,” a single dad with two young kids. He was managing a restaurant at the time and had a decent income. But when the restaurant closed, the owners gave him very little notice. He fell late on his rent. 


My property manager wanted to immediately serve him with a three-day pay or vacate notice. I felt that three days was far too little to give someone to pick themselves back up. He could have ended up homeless, living with his small kids in a vehicle. Matt has no family in the area. His one remaining relative lives in New Hampshire.


Matt went to a local agency for help, but he was ineligible for assistance. They would provide one month’s rent to a person facing eviction - but only up to $500. And determining eligibility takes much longer than three days.


So I told my property manager to hold off. The next month, Matt found a job as a kitchen manager at another restaurant. He’s back to making regular payments and arranged with my property manager to pay additional installments for the amount past due.


Three days is not enough time to turn your life around after a crisis like losing your job.  Evictions for nonpayment of rent are a leading cause of homelessness in Washington State. The Seattle Times recently covered the story of a Seattle tenant who is facing eviction over $2Being homeless is incredibly destabilizing and shifts a person’s focus away from finding a job to finding housing. 


Landlords are private property owners, but we are doing business in a social arena.  There are ethical guidelines we should adhere to.  It’s the same reason one can’t open a store and only sell products to white people.  As a lifelong renter myself, it’s important to me to be fair and equitable in the way we treat our tenants. While it is an important source of income for my family (without it my dad would be in a nursing home), it’s also other peoples’ lives that I am dealing in. 


Luckily, a pair of bills in Olympia will give tenants a longer period to pay back rent, while still preserving landlord rights. House Bill 1453 and Senate Bill 5600 will reform the evictions process statewide, extending tenants’ notice to 14 days. A fair process for both parties – landlords and tenants – helps keep people stable and working, and keeps families together.



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