Monday, March 8, 2010

Landlord Associations Support New Rental Inspection Law Passed in Olympia!

The Rental Housing Association, the Washington Multi-Family Association and the Washington Apartment Association all testified in favor of Bill 6459 - An Act Relating to the Inspection of Rental Properties that passed both houses of the Washington legislature during the current session. (Click here to read the bill or here to read the bill summary) Attempts by landlords to have legislators pass a bill prohibiting municipalities from requiring that landlords hire a third party to do inspections or assessing landlords or owners the cost of a rental inspection by a local government employee were not successful in 2009.

Although the present bill places restrictions on local governments (e.g. inspections of rental properties can only take place every three years), the overall effect of the legislation is to give a green light to cities throughout Washington State to launch rental housing inspection programs within the language of the bill. The bill also provide a civil search warrant authority, if needed, to determine the presence of "an unsafe building condition or a violation of any building regulation , statute or ordinance".

In short, inspections cannot be refused either by the landlord or the tenant. Noncompliance penalties can be assessed by local governments. False certifications are gross misdemeanors and violators may be subject to fines not to exceed $5000.

This persistent push for legislation by the landlords to limit or prohibit inspections has, ironically, morphed into an expression of approval by the State of Washington, likely weary of lawsuits by the landlords and their associates . The subject of rental licensing and inspections will probably come before the City Council again in late April or early May. Now our City Council has more than tacit approval from Olympia - it has a law. You can read some of my prior posts on this subject by clicking here, here, and here