Seattle’s moratorium on residential evictions, which was set to expire at the end of this month, is being extended until Sept. 30, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced June 18.
According to the order, landlords will continue to be prohibited from issuing notices of termination or otherwise initiating eviction actions with courts, unless there’s an imminent threat to the health and safety of the community. Late fees, interest, or other charges due to late payment of rent during the moratorium aren’t allowed.
However, tenants are still legally obligated to pay rent during the moratorium, and landlords are encouraged to offer “flexible payment plans,” the mayor’s office said.
In addition, a city law providing tenants a six-month period in which they may claim a defense in court against eviction due to lockdown-related financial hardship, will take effect when the moratorium expires.
“We must also recognize that the economic impact of the pandemic forced many businesses to close, left far too many without jobs, and we are still responding to the fallout,” Durkan, a Democrat, said in a statement. “While we continue to be in a state of emergency, this three-month extension will ensure we can provide the cash rental assistance and housing support that is critical to stabilizing the community as we reopen.”
It’s the fifth extension Durkan has ordered since the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic hit Seattle in March 2020. A similar statewide moratorium on evictions established by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is also set to end on June 30, although Inslee hasn’t yet announced whether he’ll extend it.
In a lawsuit filed in September 2020, a group of Seattle landlords specifically challenged the city’s six-month defense rule, saying that the rule forces them to act like welfare agencies even after the end of the public health emergency.
Washington’s statewide eviction ban is also being challenged in court by a coalition of small housing providers who argue they’ve been forced to provide their services without compensation from the state, while still having to pay taxes, mortgages, and maintenance costs, and trying to support their families.
“No one group or individual alone can bear all of the costs and burden brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet that is what is being asked of small housing providers,” the Washington Business Properties Association (WBPA), one of the residential and business landlord organizations supporting the lawsuit, said in a statement. “The governor’s order was hastily adopted and needlessly extended, giving a ‘free ride’ to tenants who can pay but choose not to as well as to tenants engaging in criminal and nuisance behavior or causing property damage.”