Residents Time to Vacate Regulations in Seattle, WA

Published: Aug 01, 2020

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Repairs are an inevitability when owning a rental property, so it is important to give a tenant amble time to vacate, should they need to do so due to repairs. Today we are speaking with Enrique Jevons, Regional Director with Mynd Property Management for the Pacific Northwest, about a new law that has just passed in the state of Washington that changes the amount of time the landlord must give a tenant to vacate before repairs or renovations can begin.

Steve Rozenberg: Hey everyone, I am Steve Rozenberg with Mynd Property Management and I'm joined here today by my good friend, Enrique Jevons, who is the Regional Director of the Pacific Northwest for Mynd. Enrique, thanks for joining me today

.Enrique Jevons: Yeah, thanks.

Steve Rozenberg: So what I want to talk about today, this is something that obviously is going on right now in your area in the Pacific Northwest, if there is a landlord out there and they want to provide the tenant a notice to vacate because they’re going to be doing renovation, there's a certain amount of days—and this is a certain protocol that was just recently passed, if I'm not mistaken—that they have to follow procedures. Can you explain that a little bit more?

Enrique Jevons: Yeah, sure. So as investors, one of the things we want to do is make more money. We want to do it, oftentimes by rehabbing, repositioning our properties. And so we want to fix them up, right?

Especially if you purchase something and it's been horribly neglected, it's got a lot of deferred maintenance. Well, you're buying it with the intent to fix it up, raise the rents, refinance, the whole burst strategy. Well, unfortunately, a lot of people are doing that now. And there are some cities—so specifically within the state of Washington, the city of Tacoma has just this last year come out with a new city ordinance that has changed this statewide number of days that landlord must give resident to vacate a property. So in the state of Washington, it's 20 days. Every state has their own state law in regards to how many days you have to give notice and vice versa, that resident has to give notice, most of the time it's the same.The state of Washington used to be the same.

The resident had to give at least 20-days notice to vacate and the landlord had to give at least 20-days notice to vacate at the end of the term of their rental agreement. So that all changed with the city of Tacoma. They had a specific incident that kind of triggered it. But the city decided, “you know what? We've got all these owners now are making major rehabs to their properties and they are giving all these low-income residents notice to vacate. So we're going to change. They change the law to make it 120 days. So they must give 120 days.Now, if they intend to do any substantial remodeling, rehabbing up the unit and the codes enforcement division of that city, when you go to pull a permit, one of the things they look at is, have you properly served your residents that 120-days notice. Otherwise, they will not issue a permit for those renovations. And the fines are pretty astronomical. So all the resident has to do is, if you gave them a 20-days notice because you were just used to that, you weren't following…

Steve Rozenberg: That’s what the law was, right? You were following the law, but it was the old low.

Enrique Jevons: Boy, they’d just walk into the free legal justice service that it's available, especially for low income residents, hand that to them. And man, they are going to make a lot of money in a lawsuit against you. The moral of the story is you have got to be up on the laws.

And so, if you just don't have the ability to stay current on all the federal laws, the state laws, the city ordinances, any applicable homeowners’ association or condo association, these are all entities that have laws. A lot of cities have rental inspection ordinances. The whole point is you’ve got to be up on it. If you're not, you’ve got to make sure you hire management company.And also, I would even go further to say, you’ve got to hire a management company that that is their primary focus. That’s what they do. Because there's certainly a lot of real estate agents who they just, on the side, they're managing 5, 10, 20 properties.

But that's not their primary source of income, really, what they do is sales. They, oftentimes, what I’ve found is, they're just not focused on all the laws and the changes in laws, staying up on all the various laws for every city where they have one of those 10 properties that they're managing.And so, they, too, will make mistakes. And, unfortunately, ignorance of the law where it's ignorance along the part of your mentoring company or yourself, you can still be named in a lawsuit. So you have to be very careful and that's why I say hire a management company, one who specializes in property management. That's their primary source of income, their primary function, because it's just that added level of protection and it’ll keep you out of legal hot water because there's all sorts of new laws that happen all the time and they don't just happen in January 1st. They happen throughout the year. Not just once a year. Several times a year.

Steve Rozenberg: The worst part about all that is you don't know that you broke the law until someone is contacting you saying, “hey, guess what. You're in violation of the law.” And now you're in trouble so they don't give you this notification. The great thing about real estate is, there's no rules. You can do whatever you want. You can flip. You can wholesale. You can buy and hold.The bad thing about real estate is, there's no rules. You can flip. You can wholesale. You can do whatever you want and there's no one there to tell you whether you're doing it right or wrong until you get in trouble. So that is great information. Enrique, what you said is spot on, man. I cannot tell you enough how much, if I'm an investor, I have got to deal with the company that deals with investing, that deals with this type of industry. Not just someone—because they can lead you down the wrong path. And ultimately, if you are the property owner, the buck will stop with you.So, Enrique if somebody wants to get ahold of you and learn more about these laws, what is a good contact information for you?

Enrique Jevons: Yeah, definitely. Shoot me an email. It's always fast.

Steve Rozenberg: Alright, and if you want to learn more about our Facebook group here at Mynd, it's the Mastermynd Real Estate Investment Club. Please join. We have a lot of great information. Both Enrique and I are both members. We can chat, engage, have conversations just like you. We are dealing with rental challenges that we all deal with. So we are here to help and engage with you. So please join the Mastermynd Real Estate Investment Club. And if you want to know more about Mynd, go to our website I'm Steve Rozenberg with my good friend Enrique Jevons. I want to thank everyone for watching and we'll see you later. Bye-bye.

Enrique Jevons: Thanks. Bye, everybody.Renovations or repairs are often necessary when owning a rental property, and are sometimes so severe that the tenant must vacate the property. When this happens, it is best to give the tenant enough time to vacate before such renovations begin. Recently, the state of Washington passed a law giving tenants 120 days to vacate a property, a major change from the previous 20. While this may be good for residents, property owners should be aware of this change as it can potentially have a negative effect on their bottom line. Especially as failing to do so can potentially lead to litigation. As always, it is best for property owners to keep up-to-date on changing laws, especially if they affect the properties which they are renting.

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