Landlords with lawyers, tenants without: How some WA renters are signing away their rights

The state Legislature recently passed new regulations to protect against eviction, but many don't know their rights.

News Story (Washington)

David Kroman
December 5, 2019

Tags: Housing: Eviction, Housing: Landlord-Tenant

Organizations mentioned/involved: King County Housing Justice Project (WA)


In addition to barring evictions over late fees, the law extends “pay or vacate” notices from three to 14 days; limits the attorney’s fees that tenants must pay; and increases advance notice of rent increases from 30 to 60 days.

Edmund Witter, attorney with the Housing Justice Project, which provides free legal consultation to tenants facing eviction in King County, said that without representation, tenants may give up more than they need to. For example, he would have told Moctezuma that the new rules give judges more flexibility to propose payment plans to avoid evictions, meaning that a court date could have resulted in a more favorable path forward for her.

But Moctezuma wasn’t aware of Witter’s organization and signed the agreement on her own. “It’s such a quick process that there’s really no opportunity for the tenants to take a break, slow down and make a fair settlement,” Witter said.