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WashingtonLawHelp.orgWashington LawHelp

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Can my landlord evict me now?

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project
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The latest information about evictions in Washington state #6308EN

Contents

Please Note:

*Read this only if you live in the state of Washington.

*Eviction law continues to change. Read about the latest changes to the law.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Eviction law continues to change. Here is a summary of where things stand at the end of September, 2021: +

  • The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the federal (Centers for Disease Control or CDC) eviction moratorium is not valid. As of August 26, 2021, renters cannot use the federal moratorium as protection against eviction. The Washington state eviction moratorium ended June 30, 2021. But the Governor has continued some protections for tenants with unpaid rent due to COVID-19. These protections are in place until October 31, 2021.

  • Evictions for things other than rent are allowed again. Landlords must follow the rules to give proper notice.

  • The Washington legislature also made major changes to housing law. Visit Washington State New 2021 Landlord/Tenant Legislation. If your landlord is threatening to evict you or you have received eviction papers from your landlord, use our Eviction Defense Helper, or apply for legal help by calling our Eviction Defense Screening Line at 1-855-657-8387 or apply online at nwjustice.org/apply-online.

I am a residential tenant in Washington. I owe back rent. Are there any state protections? +

It depends. You may qualify for protection under the state "bridge" program. The governor's eviction moratorium ended (expired) June 30, 2021. In its place, the governor created a housing stability bridge program. It lasts through October 31, 2021.

Under the bridge program, landlords must take several steps before they can try to evict a tenant who is behind on rent for COVID-related reasons. The bridge ends other moratorium restrictions on landlords.

Am I eligible for the state bridge protections? +

You must be a residential tenant living in Washington who owes rent between February 29, 2020 and July 31, 2021 because of COVID-19. There are no financial requirements.

If you owe rent from anytime during these dates, your landlord cannot send you a 14-Day Notice to Pay or Vacate until:

  • Your landlord gives you the chance to take part in your county's Eviction Resolution Pilot Program (ERPP); and

  • Rental assistance is available in your county and your landlord gave you information about it; and

  • The landlord offered you a reasonable repayment plan and you rejected it or didn't answer within 14 days.

You must respond to an offer of a reasonable repayment plan within 14 days. You can choose to accept it, reject it, or counteroffer with a plan you think is more reasonable.

If you have not yet received a repayment plan from your landlord, you can ask for one using Form 1 below. You also can propose your own repayment plan using the Sample Forms below. In court, it is a defense to eviction if you can prove the landlord did not propose a reasonable repayment plan.

If your county does not have an Eviction Resolution Pilot Program yet, or there is no available rental assistance, your landlord cannot start the eviction process for unpaid rent until these programs are running or November 1.

Even after, your county may still require that a landlord give you a chance to engage in mediation before filing an eviction court case for nonpayment of rent. This is in addition to the requirement that a landlord offer you a reasonable repayment plan.

What is a "reasonable" repayment plan? +

A new state law says a "reasonable repayment plan" can require you to pay no more than 1/3 of your monthly rent to pay back rent you owe due to COVID.  This is for any rent through December 31, 2021.

Example: You pay $900 each month in rent. A repayment plan can't require you to pay more than an extra $300 per month. If your income went down (or expenses went up) due to COVID-19, a "reasonable" repayment plan in your case may be even less than 1/3 of your monthly rent.

  • A repayment plan cannot require you to make your first payment until 30 days after the repayment plan is offered.
  • A repayment plan can only include repayment for rent.  It cannot include late fees or other charges.
  • Your landlord cannot ask you to give up (waive) your rights as a tenant in any repayment plan.

*The state bridge program does not excuse you from paying (forgive) rent. If you cannot pay, try to get rent assistance. If your landlord is trying to evict you, get legal help right away. See below.

I may not be able to pay August, September and/or October 2021 rent. What will happen? +


Your landlord must apply any rent you pay on or after August 1, 2021 to that month's rent—not to unpaid rent you owe from past months. That unpaid rent is supposed to be addressed in a reasonable repayment plan.

For August, September, and October rent, your landlord cannot evict you for not paying rent if at least one of these applies to you:

  • You make full payment for August, September and October; or

  • Your landlord agreed to accept a partial payment (they do not have to agree to this); or

  • You have applied for rental assistance and are waiting for your application to be processed; or

  • You live in a county where the rent assistance program expects more funding, but has not yet started their program; or

  • You live in a county where the rent assistance program is not yet accepting new applications.

*To find rent assistance and legal help in your county, visit Facing Eviction? Get Help! and choose your county from the dropdown box.

 

I own the mobile home I live in. I rent the lot. Do these new protections apply to me? +

Yes!

What if my living arrangement is different from a typical housing rental situation? +

The Governor's bridge program no longer protects people living in non-traditional housing arrangements, such as:

  • Campgrounds.

  • Airbnb or VRBO.

  • Hotels or motels.

  • Emergency shelters.

  • Long-term care (such as a nursing home).

*Even if the bridge program does not protect you, you may have other options. Talk to a lawyer about your situation.

 

I live in public housing or other type of government housing. Am I protected from eviction? +

Yes. These protections still apply to you.

I rent on tribal land. Am I protected from eviction? +

If you live on privately owned land not held in trust on an Indian reservation ("fee land"), the state bridge program may apply.

I rent a commercial space. Do I have any protections? +

The housing stability bridge program does not apply to you. But if you are renting commercial space in Seattle, the city eviction moratorium for small commercial tenants and non-profit organizations was also extended to January 15, 2022.

Are there other eviction protections for me? +

Maybe. It depends on where you live. Some cities in Washington also have their own temporary protections from evictions. If you live in any of the cities below, read the information that applies to you: 

  • Burien: Eviction moratorium pauses evictions for not being able to pay rent through January 15, 2022.

  • Seattle: Eviction moratorium extended through January 15, 2022. Evictions for threat to public health and safety are allowed. When the moratorium expires, a new city law will provide a defense against evictions due to hardship from COVID for another six months.

  • Kenmore: Eviction pause extended through December 31, 2021. Evictions for threats to public health and safety and if the landlord wants to sell or move into the home are allowed.

There may be others. Check your city's website.

Get Legal Help +

Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help. 

Download sample letter to landlord and rent repayment plan

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Last Review and Update: Sep 30, 2021