Author: Rick Stroup

Governor Inslee Extends “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” Emergency Order to May 4

Washington State governor Jay Inslee has extended his “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” emergency order to May 4, 2020.  Read details about this extension and the governor’s original order here.

For more information about Washington State’s response to the COVID-19 situation, including current COVID-19 infection statistics, information about travel, and information for businesses and works, visit the State’s official COVID-19 response site here.

Seattle City Council Votes to Restrict Winter-Time Evictions

On Monday, February 12, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a new ordinance that will significantly restrict residential evictions during the winter.  Council Bill 119726, if signed by the Mayor or allowed to pass into law without her signature, will prohibit Seattle landlords from evicting low- and moderate-income tenants for unpaid rent between December 1 and March 1.  The unanimous vote was only possible after amendments were added to reduce the time period, to exempt landlords managing four or fewer housing units and to restrict the scope to low- and moderate-income tenants.

Read the full text of CB 119726 here.

When or if CB 119726 becomes effective depends on whether or not Mayor Durkan chooses to veto it and is governed by SMC 1.04.020.

New Full-Service Clinic for LGBTQ Parental Rights

The QLaw Foundation of Washington is sponsoring a new, free, full-representation legal clinic called Family Matters to help LGBTQ families get legal orders affirming their legal parental relationships to the children they are raising.

Assistance will be provided by both attorneys and social workers and will vary in length depending on the family’s needs.  LGBTQ families living anywhere in King County are eligible to apply.  All services provided by Family Matters are free of charge.

To request help, you can complete the online registration form here or send an email to info@qlawfoundation.org indicating your family would like help from the Family Matters clinic.

Notice Loophole a Scary Prospect for Month-to-Month Tenants

According to a recent article in CrosscutLegislators passed eviction protections. Washington landlords found loopholes — a new provision in the recently-revised Residential Landlord-Tenant Act may prove to be a scary prospect for month-to-month tenants.

RCW 59.18.410(3)(d) states:

“A  tenant  who  has  been  served  with  three  or  more  notices to pay or vacate for failure to pay rent as set forth in RCW 59.12.040 within twelve months prior to the notice to pay or vacate upon which the proceeding  is  based  may  not  seek  relief  under  this  subsection (3).”

On its face, this subsection would appear to undo many of the new tenant protections put in place by the Washington Legislature.  Crosscut asserts that landlords across the state have started serving pay-or-vacate notices the day after rent becomes due, often in situations where tenants have been accustomed to a short grace period.  That grace period can be important for low-income tenants relying on the arrival of Social Security or other social services’ payments.  Tenants who receive three such notices in a 12-month period, regardless of having made their rent payments, would not be able to take advantage of the other protections provided in RCW 59.18.410(3).

The text of ESSB 5600, as signed by the Governor, is here.

New Hope for Clearing Criminal Conviction Records

The New Hope Act (Chapter 331 of the Laws of 2019) became effective on July 28, 2019 and makes substantial changes to the rights and procedures for clearing criminal misdemeanor and felony conviction records in Washington State.

Among these changes are improved notice requirements for the Department of Corrections and the clerk of the court; the ability to vacate Assault in the second degree, Assault in the third degree when not committed against a law enforcement or peace officer, and Robbery in the second degree under specific circumstances; and the removal of restrictions based on prior vacations and the modification of restrictions based on prior restraining/protection orders.

For instructions and forms related to these new provisions, visit the New Hope Act portion of the Civil Survival web site.

Legal Help for Veterans

Recognizing that the legal process can be confusing and intimidating, the Washington State Attorney General’s Office has an a program called the Office of Military and Veteran Legal Assistance which helps active service members and veterans find legal assistance programs.

The Office’s web site includes links to legal assistance events aimed at veterans, a register of Washington State and national legal service providers and programs, and a nation-wide index to legal assistance programs.  The site also includes a link for attorneys who wish to volunteer to assistance veterans with civil legal issues.

Preparing for Your Neighborhood Clinic Visit

The King County Bar Association, sponsor of the Neighborhood Legal Clinics, has posted a useful checklist for preparing to attend a session at one of their legal clinics.  To make the best use of your time please:

1. Decide on the desired outcome or goal.
2. Schedule an appointment at a Neighborhood Legal Clinic.
3. Write a list of specific questions for the attorney.
4. Bring to the clinic appointment:

–Agreements or contracts (signed or proposed)
–Written rules or policies
–Court orders
–Court papers served on you or that you filed with the court
–All letters or emails to and from person or business with whom you have the disagreement
–Specific paperwork related to the case. For example, employee handbook, parenting plan, child support order, protection order, lease, rental agreement

5. Organize any paperwork from most recent on the top to oldest at the bottom.
6. Identify all deadlines.
7. Tell the legal clinic volunteer about these deadlines.

Remember you only have 30 minutes. Be prepared to tell the history of the legal issue to the legal clinic volunteer.

If your legal issue is vacating your criminal record please bring your Washington Access to Criminal History report.