Category: Landlord-Tenant

New Law Helps Property Owners Remove Squatters

On May 10, 2017, Governor Inslee signed a new law, which will allow property owners in certain circumstances to have squatters removed from their property by law enforcement immediately, rather than having to navigate the lengthy eviction process.

SB 5388, which passed with unanimous, bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, took effect July 23, 2017.

Specifically, the law allows property owners to file a declaration that a trespasser – not a tenant – is on their property. This allows law enforcement to remove the person immediately, unless that person can prove they were a legal tenant within the past 12 months.

A property owner, or their agent, may initiate a law enforcement investigation and request the removal of an unauthorized person or persons. They must declare:

  • They are the owner of the premises
  • The individuals entered and remain illegally on the property
  • That the individual(s) were not a tenant at the property in the past 12 months
  • The individual(s) were not authorized to enter or remain on the property
  • That they have demanded that the unauthorized individual(s) vacate the property, but the individual(s) failed to do so

You can download a free copy of the Request to Remove Trespasser form here.

Any false declarations made by an owner or their agent under this law may bring a cause of action against them for false swearing or for making a false or misleading statement to a public servant, both of which are gross misdemeanors, and the declarant may be held liable for actual damages, costs, and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

Law enforcement must provide the individual(s) with a reasonable opportunity to secure and present any credible evidence, which the officer must consider, showing that the person or persons are tenants, legal occupants, or the guests or invitees of tenants or legal occupants.

If it is determined by law enforcement that the individual(s) are on the property illegally, they may then proceed with removing them from the premises, with or without an arrest being made, and order them to remain off the premises or be subject to arrest for criminal trespass.

Read the Official Press Release here.

Handbook for Washington Seniors Updated

Legal Voice has updated the Handbook for Washington Seniors: Legal Rights and Resources for 2016 into 2017. The Handbook is a quick-reference guide covering legal rights, health care, housing, etc. The Handbook answers common questions about the issues seniors are likely to face. The Handbook may also be helpful to the family and caregivers of seniors.

You can find a digital copy of this resource available for free at www.legalvoice.org/handbook. You can also order a copy for $20 from Legal Voice.

You may also view a copy of this resource in the library, available at RES KF 390.A4 H36 (ask for it at the front information desk).

What Can I Do About An Eviction On My Record?

This link leads to a guide written by the Northwest Justice Project on the WashingtonLawHelp website.  The guide describes what can and cannot be done to remove the record of any eviction from your court record.  It answers several key questions including:

  • How do I determine whether there is an eviction on my record?
  • How can I get an eviction removed from my court record?
  • How do I discuss a past eviction with a potential landlord?
  • Is there something I can do to change the laws so that I could get my eviction case removed from my court record in the future?

Want more information? Check out our list of Housing Law Clinics & Resources, as well as our Eviction Process Guide.

New Law Helps Tenants With Evictions

On June 9, 2016 Engrossed Senate Bill 6413 was enacted. This bill creates a procedure called “Order of Limited Dissemination” which would prevent tenant screening companies from disclosing an eviction on their report. A judge may sign your order if:

  1. You were wrongly named in an eviction/unlawful detainer action or there was no basis for the action.
  2.  Your tenancy was reinstated after the filing of the unlawful detainer.
  3.  Some other “good cause” which is up to the discretion of the judge.

If you are granted this order you may take it to a tenant screening agency and they will not disclose any evictions on your report. You may then use this report for up to 30 days while trying to obtain housing. This process does not remove the eviction from the public record and so it is still discoverable to the general public.The law also gives landlords up to 21 days to either return the security deposit or submit a statement detailing how the deposit was applied.

Want more information? Check out our list of Housing Law Clinics & Resources, as well as an Eviction Process Guide.