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 and rent repayment plans. #6308EN
*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)
If you got court papers from your landlord, read this first! +
Renters with low incomes are entitled to a lawyer free of charge before a court may proceed with an eviction. Call our Eviction Defense Screening line at 1-855-657-8387 or apply online at nwjustice.org/apply-online if you think you may qualify.
The court should give you the chance to have a lawyer appointed to your eviction case. At your show cause hearing, ask the court to reschedule (continue) the hearing so you can get a lawyer appointed to your case. You should insist on this right even if the judge wants the case to proceed without you having a lawyer.
Eviction law continues to change. Here is where things stand at the beginning of November 2021: +
The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the federal (Centers for Disease Control or CDC) eviction moratorium is not valid. Renters cannot use the federal moratorium as protection against eviction.
The Washington state eviction moratorium ended June 30, 2021. The “bridge” proclamation, where the Governor continued temporary protections for tenants with unpaid rent due, has also ended as of October 31, 2021.
Evictions for not being able to pay rent are allowed again. But, landlords must follow certain rules such as offering rent repayment plans and the opportunity to have a mediation conference. Read on to find out more information.
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? +
Not anymore. After the state eviction moratorium (pause to evictions) ended on June 30, 2021, the governor established a temporary protection for those who owed rent. This was called the state “bridge” program. This “bridge” is now over. It ended on October 31, 2021.
Evictions for not being able to pay rent can start again. However, landlords must take several steps before they can try to evict a tenant who is behind on rent.
I am behind on rent. Am I going to be immediately evicted? +
No. You may receive a 14-Day Pay or Vacate Notice. But, your landlord must also have offered you a reasonable repayment plan for the rent that you owe. And if you live in a county that requires mediation, your landlord must have tried to offer you the opportunity to have a mediation conference before trying to take you to court for eviction.
I received a rent repayment plan. What do I do next? +
Answer within 14 days. You can choose to accept the repayment plan, reject it, or counteroffer with a plan you think is more reasonable. If you do not answer the repayment plan within 14 days or you reject the plan, the landlord can move to the next step of the process in trying to evict you.
The law says that the rent repayment plan has to be “reasonable.” You can negotiate with your landlord about what works for you.
You can also try to get legal advice before agreeing to a repayment plan. Call 1-855-657-8387 or apply online at nwjustice.org/apply-online to see if you are eligible for free help.
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.
I had a repayment plan but I fell behind. Can my landlord evict me now? +
Yes. If you fall behind on a rent repayment plan, your landlord can try to evict you because of this. However, you can try to see if you qualify for rent assistance. To look for rent assistance organizations in your county, use our Help by County menu.
My landlord sent me a notice for an “Eviction Resolution Pilot Program” or “ERPP.” What is this? +
In certain counties, in addition to offering a rent repayment plan, a landlord must also offer a tenant the opportunity for mediation before trying to evict the tenant if they owe rent.
If you get an ERPP notice, it is important that you respond within 14 days. Or within 10 days if you receive a second ERPP notice. Participating in mediation with your landlord is voluntary. However, if you do not respond, the landlord can proceed with an eviction. If you want to try mediation, fill out the form and send it back to your landlord or the landlord’s attorney. You can also contact the local Dispute Resolution Center or mediation program to talk more about what mediation looks like. To look for your local mediation center, use the drop-down menu here: washingtonlawhelp.org/resource/eviction.
*Note: the ERPP notice must be a standard form that has information on rent assistance and how to get legal help.
Do I have to wait to get an ERPP notice to start mediation? +
No. If you feel that you can benefit from having a conference with your landlord and working with an eviction resolution specialist, you can contact your local mediation program to start the process.
I own the mobile home I live in. I rent the lot. Do these new repayment plan and mediation laws apply to me? +
I live in public housing or other type of government housing. Do these new repayment plan and mediation laws apply to me? +
Yes. These protections apply to you.
I rent on tribal land. Do these laws apply? +
If you live on privately owned land not held in trust on an Indian reservation (“fee land”), these laws apply.
I rent a commercial space. Do I have any protections? +
These laws do 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.
I am being charged late fees for rent that I owe. Is this allowed? +
No. Landlords cannot charge late fees against tenants that owe rent from anytime between March 1, 2020 to December 31, 2021.
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 February 14, 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.
There may be others. Check your city’s website.
Get Legal Help
Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help.