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Inslee signs bill protecting tenants facing eviction

Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill that gives tenants greater opportunity to pay their landlords what they owe without being forced to move.

The bill overhauls the eviction process by extending the three-day pay-or-vacate period to 14 days and giving judges greater discretion to help people stay in their homes in cases where tenants are behind on their rent.

Two out of every five households in Washington rent their homes. More than half of those renters spend at least a third of their monthly income on housing. As median rent continues to rise faster than the median income, renters become more vulnerable to losing their housing when they face a one-time emergency, with little time to find affordable housing that meets their families' needs.

Before the passage of the bill, judicial officers had almost no ability to consider a tenant's circumstances or ability to pay before ordering their eviction.

Inflexible eviction laws allow a one-time crisis to affect a tenant's rental record for years, a major force driving tenants into housing instability and homelessness.

With the passage of the bill, judges now have the ability to consider tenants' circumstances when an eviction is for nonpayment of rent, and to allow tenants to remain in their homes while they pay back what they owe through a court-ordered payment plan.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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