Governor Publishes "Bridge Moratorium"

Posted By: Brett Waller Advocacy News, COVID-19 Resource Center,

On Tuesday, June 29, 2021 the Governor published an updated moratorium on evictions, dubbed the “Bridge Moratorium.” This moratorium expands the ability to terminate a tenancy and returns most managerial functions to rental property managers. 
Rent Increases:
Rent increases are permissible subject to state and local law. 

  • State law requires at least 60 days’ notice to increase rent, except where the rental amount is based on the income of the tenant, in which case, a minimum of 30 days’ notice is required.
  • Local exceptions: 
    • City of Auburn: any increase greater than 5 percent requires at least 120 days’ notice. 
    • Unincorporated King County: any increase greater than 3 percent requires at least 120 days’ notice. 
    • City of Kenmore: any increase greater than 10 percent requires at least 90 days’ notice.
  • Month-to-month fees may be charged provided at least 60 days’ notice is given by the housing provider to the tenant.
  • Rent increases may not be allowed where the tenant has applied for or received rental assistance. 
    • King County rental assistance: Properties applying for (or have applied) rental assistance are prohibited from raising rent on any home pending receipt of rental assistance for eligible families.

Late Fees:
Late fees are prohibited on rent accrued and unpaid between March 1, 2020, and December 31, 2021 (SB 5160).
Late fees are prohibited on all other rent owing (rent owing before February 29, 2020) through September 30, 2021.
Other Termination Notices (Behavior, substantial rehabilitation, etc.):
A housing provider may terminate a residential tenancy subject to House bill 1236 (just cause eviction).  Permissible bases for termination are included here

  • A fixed term lease may be “deemed terminated” with at least 60 days’ advance written notice. 
  • A periodic or month-to-month tenancy may be terminated by providing just cause to terminate. 
    • The notice must include the known facts and circumstances known and available to the landlord at the time of service of the notice. 
  • The following jurisdictions have local just cause eviction ordinances that supersede the state law: 
    • City of Auburn
    • City of Burien
    • City of Federal Way
    • Unincorporated King County 
    • City of Seattle

Under state law, the requirement to provide and prove actions/behavior constitute a significant and immediate threat to the health and safety of others, including tenants, is no longer required. 
The following jurisdictions extended eviction moratoria and prohibited the service of any notice, except where the tenant’s actions/behavior constitutes a significant and immediate threat to the health and safety of others, including tenants: 

  • City of Seattle (September 30, 2021)
  • City of Kenmore (September 30, 2021)
  • City of Kirkland (September 30, 2021)
  • City of Burien (September 30, 2021)

 Enforcing Prior Rent Owing:
Rent owing February 29, 2020 – July 31, 2021:
14-day notice (click for an example) may be served on a tenant after:

  1. An eviction resolution pilot program is implemented and operational***; and 
  2. The tenant has been provided with the eviction resolution pilot program notice, after July 1, 2021, and has rejected or failed to respond within 14 days of the notice. 

In addition, the housing provider must have offered, and the tenant refused to sign or did not respond to an offer of a reasonable repayment plan (click for example). A “reasonable repayment plan” means an offer of a written agreement that does not exceed three months for every one month of rent owing. This repayment agreement standard is required under Senate bill 5160
Every notice to terminate must also include written notice of the funding sources and programs established in Senate bill 5160 (to be supplemented upon availability). 

***An operational rental assistance program means a program located in the county in which the rental property is located is receiving or able to receive applications for rental assistance from eligible renters and landlords, is currently disbursing or can disburse funds, and remains open throughout the time of this order. Program implementation must be provided to the Department of Commerce for rental assistance, and to the Administrative Office of the Courts, Office of Civil Legal Aid, and Office of Financial Management and posted to the local county or court facing website. 
  • Any rental payment made after July 31, 2021 shall be applied to current rent owing and subsequently applied to past rent owing. 
  • Every rental assistance program can share the status of a tenant’s application with the landlord. 

Unpaid debt owing between the timeframe above cannot be treated as an enforceable debt until the landlord and tenant have been provided an opportunity to resolve nonpayment of rent through a rental assistance program and the eviction resolution pilot program. This appears to limit the ability to send former tenants to collections after they have vacated. 

  • Rental debt owing from February 29, 2020 through December 31, 2021 cannot be reported to a future landlord, nor can a prospective landlord take adverse action based on a tenant’s rental debt during this same period of time (SB 5160). 

 Rent owing August 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021:
A 14-day notice is prohibited where the tenant has: 

  1. Made full payment of rent; or
  2. Made a partial payment of rent based on their individual economic circumstances as negotiated with the landlord; or 
  3. Has a pending application for rental assistance that has not been fully processed; or 
  4. Resides in a jurisdiction in which the rental assistance program is anticipating receipt of additional rental assistance resources but has not yet started their program or the rental assistance program is not yet accepting new applications for assistance. 

The following is subject to change without notice based on updated interpretations of the moratorium and/or guidance or other documents provided by the State of Washington or other local government entities.