Seattle Bans Evictions Additional Six Months

Posted By: Brett Waller Advocacy News, COVID-19 Resource Center,
On Monday May 4, the Seattle City Council passed an ordinance that extends the eviction moratorium for nonpayment an additional 6 months after the Mayor's eviction moratorium terminates. Currently, the city of Seattle's eviction moratorium is set to expire on June 4. This is the same date the Washington state eviction moratorium is set to expire.  

A copy of the ordinance can be found here.  

The law applies to any tenant who fails to pay their rent, or who habitually fails to pay their rent on time and requires the tenant to provide a declaration or self-certification that they "suffered a financial hardship and are therefore unable to pay their rent."

The law also requires the following statement to be included in any 14-day notice served on tenants "“If you cannot pay rent, during or within 6 months after the end of the Mayor’s moratorium on evictions, your inability to pay is a defense to eviction that you may raise in court.” It is an additional defense to eviction if this statement is not included in the Notice. 

***Both the City of Seattle's moratorium and the state moratorium, prohibit housing providers from serving a 14-day notice to pay or vacate. This prohibition will extend until at least June 4, 2020.***  

Finally, the law prohibits the already limited instances when attorney fees and costs can be awarded to housing providers in any nonpayment eviction, but goes further to prohibit a judgment for court costs.  

While we strenuously opposed this legislation, we were hopeful public leaders would balance the needs of rental residents experiencing direct effects of COVID-19 with the needs of property owners to continue standard operations and maintenance of multifamily buildings, and focus on preserving the tenancy prior to further regulating the already difficult eviction process. We believe all public leaders must focus on creating rental assistance opportunities during this unprecedented time. Unfortunately, this law does not support rental residents who are unable to pay their rent now. It simply pushes the can down the road and increases the resident's rental financial obligations at a future time, when the obligation will be insurmountable and  rental assistance programs stretched. 

Up next, the Seattle City Council will consider regulatory payment plan requirements and seek efforts to prevent housing providers from accessing eviction history data. The WMFHA advocacy team is working to address our industry's concerns and opposition of these council bills prior to their full Council vote.  

If you have questions about this law, or the others that are proposed, please contact Brett Waller.