• Cliff Coulter

Update: Gov. Inslee's Eviction Moratorium

October Update:

On October 14, 2020, Governor Inslee extended the Washington State eviction moratorium and made made modifications to the prior moratorium, including: 

  • Clarifying that tenant behavior which is imminently hazardous to the physical safety of other persons on the premises is included among the existing permissible reasons for seeking to evict a tenant.

  • Authorizing landlords and property owners to send advance notices of future rent increases in limited circumstances, as long as the notice clearly provides that the rent increase will not go into effect until after the moratorium expires.

  • Establishing clearer guidance on permissible communications between landlords and tenants.

  • Requiring that any 60-day notice to vacate if an owner intends to occupy or sell the premises must be in the form of an affidavit signed under penalty of perjury.

According to the Governor's office, the moratorium also directs the governor’s staff to continue working with stakeholders over the next 30 days to consider additional amendments to the moratorium to ensure that the moratorium’s protections for non-payment of rent apply narrowly to those persons whose ability to pay has been directly or indirectly materially impacted by the COVID-19 virus.

Read the full proclamation here

August Update:

Who can be evicted:

  • If there is a threat to others then a Landlord can start an eviction with a detailed affidavit (Witnesses, times, description of risks, etc.). However, Landlords cannot have known about the risk before . Risks cannot be caused by tenant's disability. Covid-19 contraction does not count as a risk.

  • A Landlord who intends to sell property. Landlord must give a 60-day notice.

  • A Landlord who intends to move into the property as a primary residence.

Cannot increase rents or deposit during moratorium. Thus, rent increase must be after Oct. 15, 2020, and cannot go into effect into until the end of that rent term (subject to extensions).


Covered tenants: Residential tenants. Mobile home owners who rent the space. Hotels, Air BNBs, etc. as long as they have been there for 14 days or more.


Tenants are still liable for the rent. At the end can still be evicted for not paying. Moratorium is still a pause on rent. As such, if you have the ability to pay then you should pay your rent.


If tenant missed payments from February 29 to October 15, 2020, then the landlord still cannot collect rent unless you offer a reasonable repayment plan. Moreover, the landlord cannot record debts to a collection agency, send tenants a bill, or make a threat to collect. Plans should be something that the tenant can actually afford after. Thus, all payment plans should be tailored to the tenant's situation.


If the tenant refuses a reasonable payment plan. Thus, tenants should act in good faith regarding accepting a reasonable plan. The moratorium does prevent landlord threats. For example, "Pay your rent or leave."


Tenants should send a letter to a landlord who is violating the moratorium that asks the landlord to rescind the notice. Who can also file a complaint with the attorney general's office. They will call your landlord and say stop violating the moratorium.


If your lease expires September 1st, 2020, then your lease expires. However, you cannot be evicted during moratorium. Because your lease expired your landlord can likely file an eviction lawsuit after Oct. 15, 2020, without serving you without a notice.


If you serve a notice during moratorium then you will likely have to serve a new notice because it is invalid.


Federal Moratorium: Section 8 vouchers, public housing, tax free housing, federally backed mortgage properties, are also protected federally. Some care act moratoriums have expired. 30-day notice is required for all notice to terminate tenancies. This may continue until a new law comes into effect, even after Oct. 15, 2020.




Yesterday Gov. Inslee extended the rent moratorium for 60 days (through August 1). The modifications include but are not limited to:

  •  Prohibiting retaliation against any tenant who invokes rights or protections under the proclamation;

  •  Permitting eviction based on property damage, except for damage that is not urgent in nature, including conditions that were known or knowable to the landlord prior to the COVID-19 crisis;

  •  Establishing a defense to any lawsuit for tenants if a landlord fails to offer a reasonable repayment plan;

  •  Establishing a minimum of a 14-day length of stay at a hotel, motel or at other non-traditional dwelling situations in order to trigger the application of this proclamation to those dwelling situations; and

  •  Allowing owners to evict tenants if the owner plans to occupy or sell the property, after providing at least 60 days’ notice; and

  •  Exempting commercial property rent increases that were executed in a rental agreement prior to the date the state of emergency was declared, on February 29.

Other restrictions, including the prohibition on assessing late fees or other charges, are continued in this order.

https://www.governor.wa.gov/news-media/inslee-extends-eviction-moratorium

May Update:

Many landlords have been missing out on rent collection for several months. All those missed payments will be presumably be due in full after the moratorium ends June 4, 2020. However, Seattle's mayor just signed a new bill to require payment plans for many situations.

Under a default schedule in the payment-plan bill, tenants will be allowed to pay their overdue rent in consecutive and equal monthly installments. Up to one month of overdue rent will be paid in three installments; over one month and up to two months of overdue rent will be paid in five installments; and over two months of rent will be paid in six installments.
Tenants will have the ability to propose alternative schedules, though landlords will have the right to accept or reject those proposals.
The bill also will prohibit rent-related late fees and interest from accruing until a year after the termination of Seattle’s coronavirus emergency.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/seattle-mayor-jenny-durkan-signs-bill-requiring-landlords-to-offer-payment-plans-after-coronavirus-emergency/

New 2020 Bills

There are also three new bills coming down the pipe. None of which seem to be as expansive as the 2019 July Bill. Links below:

http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2019-20/Pdf/Bills/Session%20Laws/Senate/6378-S.SL.pdf?q=20200518140947

http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2019-20/Pdf/Bills/Session%20Laws/House/2535-S.SL.pdf?q=20200518140558

http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2019-20/Pdf/Bills/Session%20Laws/House/1694.SL.pdf?q=20200518140405

Look for the language in 14 day and summons, statutory grace period on payments, installment payments for move-in expenses, and clarifications on the payment plans from last year.

April Update: Landlord Tenant Law

Renters have some flexibility in Washington based on the Governor's new moratorium. On March 18, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a 30-day moratorium on residential evictions. Because of the order Landlord's cannot immediately evict tenants if they do not pay your rent this month. But the order is silent in regards to pausing late fees, which many tenants will be incurring. Furthermore, unless Inslee renews or modifies the order, landlords will likely be demanding back pay once it expires on April 17. If tenants cannot pay, there currently are no statewide protections on evictions. Landlords can still eviction on grounds of on other violations of rental agreements. The next hurdle is waiting for courthouses to open up eviction dockets.



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