COVID-19 Eviction Moratorium

Posted By: Brett Waller Advocacy News , COVID-19 Resource Center , Industry Trends ,
An update on the coronavirus-related government actions.
***update March 18, 2020 -
  • The WA Supreme Court has ordered a stay of all Writs until April 27, 2020. 
  • The following cities have enacted eviction moratoria - Seattle, Kenmore, Everett, Woodinville, and King County (sheriff - delivery of writs)
  • It is expected the Governor will issue an eviction moratorium as well.  
  • Pres. Trump announced HUD has suspended all evictions and foreclosures (more infomration forthcoming)

At WMFHA we’re working to provide you with the most accurate and up to date information from all government sources. 

As you likely know, bars and restaurants are now closed to dine-in eating, putting pressure on many different aspects of daily life in the United States. 

Last week, we advocated for a pause in the service of Writ of Restitutions to allow for access to the state-funded programs that require judgment. On Saturday the Mayor of Seattle issued an Emergency Order lasting 30 days that:

  • Prevents the issuance of a 14-day notice or serve an eviction Summons and Complaint
  • Prevents the assessment of late fees
  • Allows any existing court action to be continued beyond the term of the emergency order

The Emergency Order required ratification by the City Council and yesterday the City Council made the following changes:

  • Expanding the Emergency Order to the majority of residential evictions
  • Extending the Emergency Order to 60 days (May 3, 2020)
  • Extending the Emergency Order to prevent the service of all notices of termination unless the actions by the tenant cause an imminent threat to the health and safety of neighbors, the landlord, or the tenant’s or landlord’s household members
  • Creating a defense to eviction that the eviction is occurring during the Emergency Order

In addition to the city of Seattle, the cities of Kenmore, Burien and Everertt have passed eviction moratoriums which:

  • Prevents the service of any notice of termination
  • Prevents the assessment of late fees
Effective immediately, King County Sheriffs will no longer do physical evictions until further notice.

These limitations and the likelihood of other jurisdictions implementing similar moratoriums require housing providers to remain proactive in communicating with residents. 

We are making the following recommendations to members related to Coronavirus:

  • If you have a writ of restitution in hand awaiting service on the tenant, ask the sheriff to delay service of the Writ and seek reimbursement from the Landlord Mitigation Fund
  • Work with residents to pay their rent, whether that is a payment plan or another method.  
  • Remind residents they remain responsible to pay their rent and if they’ve been laid off from their employer, provide resources to them such as unemployment insurance and worker's compensation. While these eviction moratoria prevent the delivery of a 14-day notice to pay or vacate, you can send residents a letter indicating their balance owing.  
  • Waive late fees that have accrued in March 2020, or will accrue in the next couple months
  • Ask residents to contact your leasing teams if they will not be able to make rent and provide resources to residents to supplement their income or seek additional financial resources that may be available in the community.

WMFHA continues to work at the federal, state and local levels to increase funding to emergency rental assistance programs and provide other financial relief to housing providers who may experience the downstream effects this virus has on everyone in the United States. 

In the meantime, we recommend that owners and owner-entities contact their mortgage bankers to understand better the opportunities available to mortgagees. 

At this time, we do not know the breadth or extent of the Coronavirus limitations on the economy and on society and are continuing to have discussions with federal, state and local officials.