REIA, the Real Estate Investors Association of Washington 

Real Estate Investors Association
                                of Washington


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REIA Law & Rule Updates


Links to additional information that REIA receives regarding legislation and law
along with contact information for our lawmakers are available on this website


Legislative, Law and Rule Changes and Enforcement

The most commonly discussed Washington State laws are the Distressed Property Conveyance Act, which generally applies to preforeclosures, changes to the Contractors Registration Law and Rules, which typically requires rehabbers to become contractors, and Rental Property Registration and Inspection.  All are listed below.

Annual Real Estate Investing Law Update

Laws have changed substantially in Washington as of late including Landlord / Tenant and Eviction, the new Condominium Act and Seattle's "Notice of Intent to Sell" Ordinance that can affect landlords with two units and above.  We are absolutely still bound by the Distressed Property Conveyance Act, most flippers are still required to be license, bonded and insured General Contractors and Securities laws may apply to borrowing from private lenders or selling an LLC. 

Law Updates are provided in part at many REIA Meetings and Classes.
Please join us for the next REIA Annual Law Update at the Main Meeting, or a substantial changes occur.

State of Washington 
Graduated Real Estate Excise Tax became law via SB-5998.  The new excise tax rates take affect on January 01, 2020.  Please click here for details and take note of the included statement that individual county rates are in addition to the new state excise tax rates.

City of Seattle 
Landlords in Seattle Can't Force Renters to Pay For Parking Anymore.  Click here to read the article and visit the King County Multi-Family Residential Parking Calculator

City of Seattle 

The City of Seattle's "First in Time", or FIT, ordinance "deprives landlords of...choice by requiring them to rent to the first applicant who satisfies the advertised rental criteria", according to Pacific Legal Foundation. We extend our congratulations to the Pacific Legal Foundation for successfully winning its case against the City, eliminating the requirement for landlords. Here's the link:

State of Washington

House Bill 2583 and Senate Bill 6400. 

If passed, serves to "repeal RCW 35.21.830 and 36.01.130 to abolish statewide bans on local laws that regulate rent."  In other words:RENT CONTROL. 

For an indication of the opposition's viewpoint consider statements from Gina Owens, speaking on behalf of the Washington Community Action Network, who KOMO News reports has been the victim of high rent costs herself. Owens said she understands the need for landlords and developers to make a living and pay for maintenance of their properties. “I don’t understand why they feel renters should pay such high costs to support their personal needs,” she said.

It seems to escape some that landlords are in this game for a profit, not mere survival, nor do they seem to consider that Washington landlords may well take some of their investing dollars to other states, effectively reducing rental housing availability in Washington.

Read the billsWashington State House Bill 2583 & Washington State Senate Bill 6400

This session has ended without advancing these bills, hopefully,
though not likely, for the foreseeable future. 


Rent Control: Washington State House Bill 2583

City of Seattle 

Seattle's ordinance is designed to end discrimination against renters, stop providing employer-related discounts and more.  Read the bill:  City of Seattle, Council Bill 118755

Contractors Registration for Washington Flippers

RCW 18.27. Washington law was modified by SHB 1843 and updated by HB 1749 with a net effect of requiring most flippers must be licensed, bonded, insured and registered general contractors.  According to RCW 18.27.010(1)(c) the requirement may be avoided "if the person, firm, corporation, or other entity [flipper] contracts with a registered general contractor and does not superintend the work." 

The licensing requirement is said to have been put in place to protect consumers by enabling a means of getting monetary relief for negligent or poor quality workmanship by making a claim on the renovator / contractor's bond.  This law affects individuals as well as entities of ALL SIZES.  

  Contractors Registration for Washington Flippers
We strongly recommend you consult with the Real Estate Attorney on your team.  Read the law: RCW 18.27.

Is YOUR Rental Property Registered?

Many of Washington's cities - including the City of Seattle - require, or will require in the near future, registration and inspection of all rental units.  Ordinances not only apply to larger complexes but all the way down to single family residences that are used as rental units.  The City of Seattle schedule requires that all properties with 10 or more units register by 09/30/14 all all properties with 5-9 units register by 03/31/15.  Single family, duplex, triplex and four-plex properties with rental units must be registered during 2015 and 2016 with specific due dates dictated by zip code.  Registration costs start at $175 per property every 5 years in addition to the cost of inspections, which can be formidable depending on the number of units being inspected, "at least" once every 10 years. 

Additional information is available on the following page: Is Your Rental Property Registered?  
REIA strongly recommends that landlords in all jurisdictions verify their local requirements! 

Distressed Property Conveyances (formerly Equity Skimming) 

RCW 61.34 effectively stops investors from working directly with owner-occupied and/or primary residences who are in foreclosure or may go into foreclosure.  Preforeclosures can include lease-backs, "saving" the homeowner's credit and "saving" homeowners from foreclosure.  A full description can found in the RCW itself and the subsequent Washington State Supreme Court Opinion on the Washington State Legislature website.

Attorneys tell us "the penalty for engaging in a "pattern" of equity skimming that is set forth in the Distressed Property Conveyances Act is found in RCW 9.94A, as a Class B Felony, Level II offense", which can include confinement in a state correctional institution, fine or both.  We are also told that the law cannot be avoided by disclosures. 

The Distressed Property Conveyance Act RCW 61.34

The Washington State Supreme Court issued a subsequent Opinion in 2014 that stems from litigation related to the Distressed Property Conveyance Act. The opinion acknowledges the statutory provision of RCW 61.34 that includes properties that are either (1) "in danger of foreclosure or at risk of loss due to nonpayment of taxes" or (2) "in danger of foreclosure the process ofbeing foreclosed to a default under the terms of a mortgage." The Washington State Supreme Court Opinion is also a good reminder to remain diligent in avoiding preforeclosures.  As is common when investors work with home owners to buy distressed residential properties, the investor loses.

REIA STRONGLY recommends that real estate investors READ THE LAW and work with
the real estate attorney on their team BEFORE involving themselves in any of the
areas the law covers. 

Additional information, including links to the law and Opinion:  Distressed Property Conveyance Act and Distressed Property Conveyance Act - Supreme Court

Seller Financing Restrictions
It is said that nearly 1/3 of U.S. properties owned free and clear - in other words without a mortgage - creating an opportunity for seller financing that gets deals done.  Many buyers are struggling to buy a first home or get into a home of their own post-foreclosure or with other credit issues that are perfect fits to owner financing and a chance to get on, or back on, their feet.  Though many of believe that government intervention in what should, largely be a matter between the buyer and seller seems inappropriate, related "consumer protection" laws are now in place that can present a barrier to providing seller financing.  The responsibilities related to the laws are the onus of the seller, not the buyer. Seller Financing Restrictions - S.A.F.E. Act

The Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008, or S.A.F.E. Act, focuses on verification of a buyer's ability to pay the mortgage.  For information click  here.

The Dodd-Frank Act of 2014 amends the S.A.F.E. Act and includes provisions that require "mortgage originator license."

Financing residential real estate is regulated at both the State and Federal levels and many laws beyond what we quote here will likely impact seller financing.  In Washington, we find the Consumer Loan Act, RCW 31.04 and WAC 208-620, regulates lending money, including as the seller / financier. 

Exemptions are available and are often discussed at the REIA Annual Law Update. 

If you plan to offer seller financing we strongly recommend that you review
the related laws and consult with a Washington licensed attorney for additional information.

Rental Property Owner Reporting Requirement

From the Washington Examiner: "...Thus, rental income recipients making payments of $600 or more to a service provider in the course of earning rental income are required to provide an information return (typically, Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income) to the IRS and to the service provider. This provision will apply to payments made after Dec. 31, 2010, and will cover, for example, payments made to plumbers, painters or accountants in the course of earning the rental income.
While rental property owners will not actually issue the required 1099s until early 2012, they need to start keeping adequate records of payments starting Jan. 1, 2011, so they will be prepared to issue correct 1099s. They will also need to obtain the name, address and taxpayer identification number of the service provider, using Form W-9 or a similar form."  More information is available at the Journal of Accountancy.  The associated record keeping requirements went in to effect on January 01, 2011.

Fair Housing Act Enforcement

From the United States Dept.of Justice: "...Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Justice Department. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability."   The link to the December 2010 DOJ statement discusses their settlement of a Disability Discrimination case - based on a complaint filed by ONE tenant with HUD - of $1,195,000 plus costs and more.

Washington State Carbon Monoxide Detector Requirements - RCW 19.27.530

"The legislature recognizes that carbon monoxide poses a serious threat. According to national statistics from the centers for disease control, carbon monoxide kills more than five hundred people and accounts for an estimated twenty thousand emergency department visits annually. Specifically, Washington state has experienced the dire effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. In the storms that struck Washington in December 2006, it was estimated that over one thousand people in the state were seen at hospital emergency rooms with symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, and eight people reportedly died of carbon monoxide exposure. It is the intent of the legislature to implement policies to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future."  Implementation of the law for new residential construction began January 01, 2011 and on January 01, 2013 for existing dwellings. 

The "new" Washington State law requires, in part, that carbon monoxide detectors must be in ALL rental housing units - whether the unit has a source of Carbon Monoxide or not - by July 01, 2011.  Requirements are also in place for new construction and "...any owner-occupied single-family residence that is sold on or after July 26, 2009...". Please visit the SBCC (State Building Code Council) website by clicking here to review these changes.

Environmental Protection Agency Rule on Lead in Paint, Dust and Soil: Renovation, Repair & Painting

The U.S. EPA Rule requirements, in part: "Common renovation activities like sanding, cutting, and demolition can create hazardous lead dust and chips by disturbing lead-based paint, which can be harmful to adults and children.

To protect against this risk, on April 22, 2008, EPA issued a rule requiring the use of lead-safe practices and other actions aimed at preventing lead poisoning. Under the rule, beginning in April 2010, contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 must be certified and must follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination."    

The EPA web page, available by clicking here, further states that "After April 22, 2010, property owners who perform these projects in pre-1978 rental housing or space rented by child-care facilities must be certified and follow the lead-safe work practices required by EPA's Renovation, Repair and Remodeling rule."
Please refer to the EPA website by clicking here or the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) website  by clicking here for additional information.  This law will likely apply to most of us at some time and should be taken very seriously...if only in consideration of the fact that the EPA can access as much as $37,500 per violation, per day. 

Real Estate Excise Tax (REET)
As was discussed at past REIA meetings, Members of the REIA Board of Directors attended a meeting with the Washington State Department of Revenue (DOR) pertaining to the interpretation of laws that dictate the collection of REET pertaining to Short Sales.  The topic, and the meeting, have been controversial in light of some of the current economic conditions.  The DOR has since reversed their position on application of REET to Short Sales.  More information is available from the DOR in the link at the bottom of this page, including the possibility of refunds to those who paid REET on the difference between the ("shorted") purchase price and the amount of the debt.  DOR notification of changes was issued on January 13, 2009 and can be viewed here.

Septic Inspection and Recording Requirement
Seattle and King County requires all sellers of properties with onsite sewage systems to have their on-site septic system inspected by a King County licensed On-Site System Maintainer.  Before closing the seller must record a Notice of On-site Sewage System Operation and Maintenance Requirements (OSSM) at King County Office of Records and Elections.  The document acknowledges the property is served by a septic system and describes the owner's responsibilities for maintaining the system.  For more information click here. For information about requirements in other jurisdictions, please contact the appropriate jurisdiction.

More coming...

This page will be updated as warranted, so check back often!
REIA Legislative update pages include commentary from REIA, updates on legislation and related links but IS NOT intended to serve as legal advice and does not include ALL changes OR all information related to the changes listed.
For additional information about working with homeowners in - or at risk of - foreclosure, please visit the  Distressed Property Conveyance Act and Distressed Property Conveyance Act - Supreme Court pages on this website. 
For a complete list of Legislative Issues that affect real estate investors, including landlords and rehabbers, please visit the Lawmakers & Links page on this website and click through to the Washington State Legislature, check other Local and Federal websites and consult with a real estate attorney licensed in Washington State.

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