The Eviction Moratorium "Bridge" to Nowhere Ends October 31
Governor Inslee’s eviction “Bridge” is scheduled to end on October 31. It succeeded only in providing cover for slow-moving rental assistance programs that had no urgency to distribute funds. Rather than extending the moratorium, the state should have focused on the efficient use of the legislative off ramp to provide immediate access to rental assistance money. But here we are.
Many states across the country have now been without eviction bans since the CDC ban was struck down. Nowhere are we seeing the “eviction cliff” many fearmongers warn about. A mass eviction event is even less likely in Washington.
That’s because the state has essentially taken over the responsibility for the eviction process. The housing provider’s role is to bring any issue of nonpayment of rent to the Dispute Resolution Center (DRC) through the Eviction Resolution Pilot Program (ERPP). From that moment forward, the DRC is responsible for seeking rental assistance on behalf of the tenant and housing provider for past-due rent. Through this process, the state and DRC have the power to stop evictions through the distribution of rental assistance relief funds.
As housing providers and tenants prepare for the end of the “Bridge,” here is a complete listing of timelines, processes and programs to follow and be aware of.
Apply for Rental Assistance
The State of Washington received rental assistance from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Recovery Plan Act (APRA). These dollars are flexible; they are meant to assist in maintaining housing stability through the payment of rental assistance and utility arrears and to provide future rental payments for renters experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
$140 million in State CARES Act General Relief Funds.
$920 million in federal rental assistance in Washington state.
$658 million in APRA General Relief Funds for additional rental assistance.
$110.2 million in permanent rental assistance to assist those experiencing homelessness and those at risk of becoming homeless (HB 1277).
In addition to this rental assistance, here is a list of county-by-county resources, available to apply for rental assistance.
Where a tenant is unable to access rental assistance through APRA dollars, additional resources are available through the Washington State Department of Commerce: the Landlord Mitigation Program, Limited Landlord Relief Program and Tenancy Preservation Program.
Create a Payment Plan
There are some differences in the state laws and local laws in Seattle when it comes to creating a payment plan. For the state, a housing provider must offer a payment plan that is no greater than three months for every one month of unpaid rent. In Seattle, the repayment requirements are stricter: three months for the first unpaid month, five months for one to two unpaid months and six months for three or more unpaid months.
Housing providers must provide a written offer to a tenant according to the above and let them know that they have 14 days to respond to the offer. The payment plan should be in writing, signed by both parties, and should not include late fees or other one-time fees associated with the tenancy. However, the payment plan can include utilities that are unpaid.
Also provide the offer of the Eviction Resolution Pilot Program.
Engage in Mediation
Mediation and dispute resolution are invaluable tools to assist housing providers in solving issues with tenants.
To access and engage in this, send the notice provided to the tenant along with the 14-day notice and the offer of the payment plan to the local DRC. It is the responsibility of the housing provider to bring any issue of nonpayment of rent to the DRC through the ERPP. It is the role of the DRC to help determine if the tenant is eligible to receive rental assistance for past due rent.
Every county in Washington offers free dispute resolution and mediation services. For more information and a detailed list of organizations, go to Resolution Washington or the Washington Courts Dispute Resolution Centerslistings.
Example Eviction Moratorium Bridge Timeline
This is an estimated timeline of a HYPOTHETICAL termination process once the eviction moratorium “Bridge” proclamation ends.
October 31 – “Bridge” Proclamation ends
November 1 – Rent is due and considered late thereafter
November 6 – Serve offer of repayment plan; serve Eviction Resolution Pilot Program (ERPP), Notice & 14-day notice (may be served concurrently with the offer of repayment plan.)
November 21 – Offer for repayment plan EXPIRES; 14-day notice EXPIRES; ERPP notice EXPIRES
November 30 – Serve unlawful detainer action
December 13 – Tenant’s response to unlawful detainer action DUE
December 15 – Obtain Order to show Cause
January 4 – Show Cause Hearing (1st Appearance/Right to Counsel)
January 11 – Possible 2nd Show Cause Hearing/judgement and/or tenant receives access to Tenancy Preservation Program
Terminology and Definitions
Washington state’s rules and regulations covering tenants and housing providers have changed in major ways in the past three years. With a variety of new processes and regulations being implemented following the end of the eviction moratorium, it can be hard to keep track of terminology in the rental housing industry.
We have defined this terminology here to better inform our members and the housing industry, tenants of our communities and residential property managers.