43.31.583  <<  43.31.605 >>   43.31.615

Landlord mitigation programDepartment to administer and have rule-making authorityClaimsEligibility for reimbursementReviewDamagesInspectionLandlords prohibited from certain actsDenial of reimbursementDepartment to establish web siteLiabilityReport, recommendations.

(1) Subject to the availability of funds for this purpose, the landlord mitigation program is created and administered by the department. The department shall have such rule-making authority as the department deems necessary to administer the program. The following types of claims related to landlord mitigation for renting private market rental units to low-income tenants using a housing subsidy program are eligible for reimbursement from the landlord mitigation program account:
(a) Up to one thousand dollars for improvements identified in RCW 59.18.255(1)(a). In order to be eligible for reimbursement under this subsection (1)(a), the landlord must pay for the first five hundred dollars for improvements, and rent to the tenant whose housing subsidy program was conditioned on the real property passing inspection. Reimbursement under this subsection (1)(a) may also include up to fourteen days of lost rental income from the date of offer of housing to the applicant whose housing subsidy program was conditioned on the real property passing inspection until move in by that applicant;
(b) Reimbursement for damages as reflected in a judgment obtained against the tenant through either an unlawful detainer proceeding, or through a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction after a hearing;
(c) Reimbursement for damages established pursuant to subsection (2) of this section; and
(d) Reimbursement for unpaid rent and unpaid utilities, provided that the landlord can evidence it to the department's satisfaction.
(2) In order for a claim under subsection (1)(c) of this section to be eligible for reimbursement from the landlord mitigation program account, a landlord must:
(a) Have ensured that the rental property was inspected at the commencement of the tenancy by both the tenant and the landlord or landlord's agent and that a detailed written move-in property inspection report, as required in RCW 59.18.260, was prepared and signed by both the tenant and the landlord or landlord's agent;
(b) Make repairs and then apply for reimbursement to the department;
(c) Submit a claim on a form to be determined by the department, signed under penalty of perjury; and
(d) Submit to the department copies of the move-in property inspection report specified in (a) of this subsection and supporting materials including, but not limited to, before repair and after repair photographs, videos, copies of repair receipts for labor and materials, and such other documentation or information as the department may request.
(3) The department shall make reasonable efforts to review a claim within ten business days from the date it received properly submitted and complete claims to the satisfaction of the department. In reviewing a claim, and determining eligibility for reimbursement, the department must receive documentation, acceptable to the department in its sole discretion, that the claim involves a private market rental unit rented to a low-income tenant who is using a housing subsidy program.
(4) Claims related to a tenancy must total at least five hundred dollars in order for a claim to be eligible for reimbursement from the program. While claims or damages may exceed five thousand dollars, total reimbursement from the program may not exceed five thousand dollars per tenancy.
(5) Damages, beyond wear and tear, that are eligible for reimbursement include, but are not limited to: Interior wall gouges and holes; damage to doors and cabinets, including hardware; carpet stains or burns; cracked tiles or hard surfaces; broken windows; damage to household fixtures such as disposal, toilet, sink, sink handle, ceiling fan, and lighting. Other property damages beyond normal wear and tear may also be eligible for reimbursement at the department's discretion.
(6) All reimbursements for eligible claims shall be made on a first-come, first-served basis, to the extent of available funds. The department shall use best efforts to notify the tenant of the amount and the reasons for any reimbursements made.
(7) The department, in its sole discretion, may inspect the property and the landlord's records related to a claim, including the use of a third-party inspector as needed to investigate fraud, to assist in making its claim review and determination of eligibility.
(8) A landlord in receipt of reimbursement from the program is prohibited from:
(a) Taking legal action against the tenant for damages attributable to the same tenancy; or
(b) Pursuing collection, or authorizing another entity to pursue collection on the landlord's behalf, of a judgment against the tenant for damages attributable to the same tenancy.
(9) A landlord denied reimbursement under subsection (1)(c) of this section may seek to obtain a judgment from a court of competent jurisdiction and, if successful, may resubmit a claim for damages supported by the judgment, along with a certified copy of the judgment. The department may reimburse the landlord for that portion of such judgment that is based on damages reimbursable under the landlord mitigation program, subject to the limitations set forth in this section.
(10) Determinations regarding reimbursements shall be made by the department in its sole discretion.
(11) The department must establish a web site that advertises the landlord mitigation program, the availability of reimbursement from the landlord mitigation program account, and maintains or links to the agency rules and policies established pursuant to this section.
(12) Neither the state, the department, or persons acting on behalf of the department, while acting within the scope of their employment or agency, is liable to any person for any loss, damage, harm, or other consequence resulting directly or indirectly from the department's administration of the landlord mitigation program or determinations under this section.
(13)(a) A report to the appropriate committees of the legislature on the effectiveness of the program and recommended modifications shall be submitted to the governor and the appropriate committees of the legislature by January 1, 2021. In preparing the report, the department shall convene and solicit input from a group of stakeholders to include representatives of large multifamily housing property owners or managers, small rental housing owners in both rural and urban markets, a representative of tenant advocates, and a representative of the housing authorities.
(b) The report shall include discussion of the effectiveness of the program as well as the department's recommendations to improve the program, and shall include the following:
(i) The number of total claims and total amount reimbursed to landlords by the fund;
(ii) Any indices of fraud identified by the department;
(iii) Any reports by the department regarding inspections authorized by and conducted on behalf of the department;
(iv) An outline of the process to obtain reimbursement for improvements and for damages from the fund;
(v) An outline of the process to obtain reimbursement for lost rent due to the rental inspection and tenant screening process, together with the total amount reimbursed for such damages;
(vi) An evaluation of the feasibility for expanding the use of the mitigation fund to provide up to ninety-day no interest loans to landlords who have not received timely rental payments from a housing authority that is administering section 8 rental assistance;
(vii) Any other modifications and recommendations made by stakeholders to improve the effectiveness and applicability of the program.
(14) As used in this section:
(a) "Housing subsidy program" means a housing voucher as established under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1437 as of January 1, 2018, or other housing subsidy program including, but not limited to, valid short-term or long-term federal, state, or local government, private nonprofit, or other assistance program in which the tenant's rent is paid either partially by the program and partially by the tenant, or completely by the program directly to the landlord;
(b) "Low-income" means income that does not exceed eighty percent of the median income for the standard metropolitan statistical area in which the private market rental unit is located; and
(c) "Private market rental unit" means any unit available for rent that is owned by an individual, corporation, limited liability company, nonprofit housing provider, or other entity structure, but does not include housing acquired, or constructed by a public housing agency under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1437 as it existed on January 1, 2018.
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