Extension of Washington State Moratorium

Industry News , Portland/SW Washington ,

On June 29, 2021 Governor Inslee passed an amendment to Proclamation 20-05, 21-09, calling it “Tenancy Preservation – A Bridge to E2SSB 5160” (“Bridge”). The Bridge runs parallel to the requirements in Senate Bill 5160 (SB 5160) and extends certain moratorium protections for Renters related to rent, debts, late fees, rent increases and eviction actions and is in effect from July 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021.
The new protections are as follows:

1. Past Rent Owed due to COVID-19 from February 29, 2020 through July 31, 2021

Landlords are prohibited serving, enforcing or threatening to serve or enforce any termination notice or unlawful detainer action related to arrears from the aforementioned dates until:

  • A rental assistance program and an eviction resolution pilot have been implemented and are operational in the county in which the rental property is located; and
  • A Renter has been provided with, and has, since the effective date of this order, rejected or failed to respond within 14 days of receipt of such notice to an opportunity to participate in an operational rental assistance program and
    an operational eviction resolution pilot program.

Confirmation that an eviction resolution pilot is operational will be provided on local county or court public-facing website.

If an out-of-county relocation program is accepting out-of-county applications, a Renter and Landlord can opt to use an operational eviction resolution program located in a different county. Rent assistance programs are authorized to share
application status of a Renter with Landlords.

Renters are required to respond to Landlords to establish reasonable repayment plans and participate in eviction resolution programs as described in SB 5160 (see previous article).

Rent payments made on or after August 1, 2021 must be applied to current rent first, then past due rent.

2. Enforceable Debt Owed due to COVID-19 from February 29, 2020 through July 31, 2021

Landlords are prohibited from treating any unpaid rent or other charges related to the aforementioned dates as enforceable until the Landlord and Renter have been provided with an opportunity to resolve the non-payment through a rental assistance program and an eviction resolution pilot program as described in SB 5160. This includes but is not limited to: attempts to collect, or threats to collect, independently or through a collection agency, by filing an unlawful detainer or other judicial action, by withholding any portion of a security deposit, or by reporting to credit bureaus.

3. Future Rent Owed for August 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021

For rent accruing during the aforementioned period Landlords are prohibited from serving or enforcing, or threatening to serve or enforce, any notice requiring a Renter to vacate any dwelling, including but not limited to an eviction
notice, notice to pay or vacate, unlawful detainer summons or complaint, notice of termination of rental, or notice to comply or vacate, if Renter has:

  • Made full payment of rent; or
  • Made a partial payment of rent based on their individual economic circumstances as negotiated with the Landlord; or
  • Has a pending application for rental assistance that has not been fully processed; or
  • 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.

4. Late Fees from February 29, 2020 through September 30, 2021

Landlords may not threaten to assess or assess a late fee during the aforementioned period.

5. Rent increases from February 29, 2020 through September 30, 2021

Rent increases are permitted beginning July 1, 2021 but may not be retroactively imposed and must comply with all state and local laws.

Note: Some state and/or federal rent assistance programs may prohibit increasing rent as part of accepting funds.

6. Reasonable Repayment Plans for Rent owed due to COVID-19 from February 29, 2020 through September 30, 2021

For rent owed during the aforementioned dates, Landlords are prohibited from serving or enforcing, or threatening to serve or enforce, any notice requiring a Renter to vacate any dwelling, including but not limited to an eviction notice, notice to pay or vacate, unlawful detainer summons or complaint, notice of termination of rental, or notice to comply or vacate if the Landlord has made no attempt to establish a reasonable repayment plan with the Renter, or if they cannot agree on a plan and no local eviction resolution pilot program per SB 5160 exists.

  • “Reasonable repayment plan” has the same meaning as “reasonable schedule for repayment,” as defined in Section 4 of SB 5160, and means a repayment plan or schedule for unpaid rent that does not exceed monthly payments equal to one-third of the monthly rental charges during the period of accrued debt.
  • Renters must respond to Landlords within 14 days of the Landlord’s offer, per the timelines in SB 5160.

If a Renter fails to accept the terms of a reasonable repayment plan or if the Renter defaults on any rent owed under a repayment plan, a Landlord must provide notice to the Renter informing them of the eviction resolution pilot program, and then follow the procedures provided by SB 5160, before filing an unlawful detainer action. The pilot program must be operational at the time the notice is sent (see  section 1 above) and must be able to provide the Renter with an opportunity to participate in the program.

7. Permissible Unlawful Detainer Actions

Except as described above, all other evictions allowed by law are permissible.

8. Communications

Landlords may continue to engage in customary and routine communications with Renters. “Customary and routine” means communication practices that were in place prior to the moratorium but only to the extent that those communications reasonably notify a Renter of upcoming rent that is due; provide notice of community events, news, or updates; document a lease violation; are related to negotiating a reasonable repayment plan or other program provided by SB 5160; or are otherwise consistent with the Bridge requirements. Within these communications and parameters, Landlords may provide information to Renters regarding financial resources, including coordinating with Renters in applying for rent assistance through the state’s Emergency Rent Assistance Program (ERAP) or an alternative rent assistance program, and to provide Renters with information on how to engage with them in discussions regarding reasonable repayment plans.

9. Retaliation

Landlords may not retaliate against Renters for invoking their rights or protections under the Bridge or any other previous proclamations or any or state or federal law providing rights or protections for residential dwellings.

10. Right to Counsel

Indigent Renters continue to have the right to have an attorney appointed in an unlawful detainer proceeding as set forth in SB 5160.

Some jurisdictions have adopted city specific ordinances related to the eviction moratorium. At the time of this blast, the cities with specific ordinances include the City of Burien, City of Kenmore, City of Kirkland and the City of Seattle. We recommend that Landlords check your own individual jurisdiction before proceeding.

This article is not intended as legal advice. Please obtain advice of an attorney for any policy change or decisions regarding residential and commercial Landlord/Tenant matters.