April 17, 2020 COVID-19 Legal Update for Washington

Below is a synopsis of changes to the law for Landlords in Washington State:

On April 16, 2020 Washington Governor Jay Inslee issued Proclamation 20-19.1, which extends the moratorium on residential evictions until June 4, 2020.

The proclamation prohibits Landlords from serving or enforcing any notice terminating a tenancy. This applies to termination for any reason, not just nonpayment. The only exception is if the Landlord attaches an affidavit attesting that the action is necessary to respond to a significant and immediate risk to the health or safety of others created by the resident.

Landlords also cannot enforce or seek to enforce judicial eviction orders or agreements to vacate unless the Landlord attaches an affidavit attesting that the action is necessary to respond to a significant and immediate risk to the health or safety of others created by the resident.

Landlords cannot assess residents the following items:

  1. Late fees for non-payment or late payments that occurred on or after February 29, 2020;
  2. Rent or other charges for any period during which the resident’s access to, or occupancy of, a dwelling was prevented as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak; and
  3. Rent increases or increases in the amount of any deposit (this prohibition also applies to commercial rental property if the commercial Tenant has been materially impacted by COVID-19).

Additionally, during the moratorium, Landlords cannot attempt to collect unpaid rent or other charges where non-payment was a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and occurred on or after February 29, 2020. This includes attempts to collect through a collection agency, judicial action, withholding any portion of a security deposit, billing or invoicing, reporting to credit bureaus, or by any other means. This prohibition does not apply to a Landlord who demonstrates by a preponderance of the evidence to a court that the resident was offered, and refused or failed to comply with, a re-payment plan that was reasonable based on the individual financial, health, and other circumstances of that resident. 

Finally, the Governor “strongly encourage[s] every tenant to pay what they can, as soon as they can, to help support the Landlords, property owners, and property managers who are supporting them through this crisis.”

This letter is not intended as legal advice. Please obtain advice of an attorney for any police change or decisions regarding residential and commercial landlord-tenant matters.