Fighting for common-sense housing affordability solutions

It is a humbling experience to sit behind my desk on the House floor. Before debate on a tough bill, I think about how I am your voice and why I need to fight hard for what is in the best interest of you, your family and your business.

We recently concluded our first round of votes on House bills introduced this session. There were many debates, and down-right battles, on bad bills the majority party brought forward. I would like to talk about one of those debates.

Housing affordability and homelessness are two huge issues facing the Legislature. As the ranking Republican on the House Housing, Community Development and Veterans Committee, I have a front row seat in finding real, sustainable solutions to keeping people in their homes, reducing cost burdens and regulations on building homes, and pinpointing the root causes to homelessness.

An area the Legislature is looking to reform is current landlord-tenant laws. One way to take the burden off the short supply of housing is ensuring people can stay in their current homes, especially when facing possible eviction.

When the eviction process begins, and a tenant is served a pay-or-vacate notice, current statute gives them three days to remedy their situation. Research shows that when tenants receive a few more days to settle their financial obligations, they are more likely to meet their rental demands and prevent eviction. Time is of the essence. However, there needs to be proper balance for both the tenant – to remedy their situation – and the landlord – to ensure they do not bear the burden of costs caused by a bad tenant.

The majority party’s proposal is extreme. Under their proposal, House Bill 1453, a tenant who is not paying their rent, or adhering to their rental agreement, will have 14-days to make financial amends with their landlord.

This timeframe is too long and will create an unfair burden on the backs of landlords.

At one time, I managed six housing units. I know firsthand how important it is to give tenants a little extra time to pay a missed rent payment when an unforeseen circumstance happens. However, most landlords, like me, are not wealthy. They cannot afford to front the costs of a bad tenant by continually extending the timeframe to receive rental payments. A rent unpaid is also a mortgage unpaid.

An amendment introduced by my colleague, Rep. Andrew Barkis, R-Olympia, contained a better solution. His approach would have brought the proposed legislation’s timing of 14-days down to seven days. This amendment would have given consideration to both the landlord and the tenant to maintain their financial responsibilities.

The difference between my caucus’ approach and the majority party’s came down to timeframe. We fought hard to make a bad bill better. In the end, we were unsuccessful, and the original bill was approved 54-44.

I will continue to stand up for good, common-sense solutions that actually make a difference to this crisis. I will fight against any policy that does not bring equal reform, like House Bill 1453.

If you have any concerns about this particular bill, or any policy before the Legislature, please contact my office at (360) 786-7836.

It is an honor to serve you.

State Representative Bill Jenkin, 16th Legislative District
470 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7836 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000