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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

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

 

Eviction law continues to change.

  • The federal eviction moratorium continues until July 31, 2021. If you meet certain financial requirements and you are behind on rent, you cannot be evicted this month.

  • Although the state eviction moratorium ended June 30, the Governor continued some protections for tenants with unpaid rent due to COVID-19.

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

  • The legislature also made major changes to housing law. Visit Washington State New 2021 Landlord/Tenant Legislation. Check back for updates.

 

If your landlord is threatening to evict you,

 

The federal eviction moratorium remains in place through July 31, 2021.

The governor’s eviction moratorium ended (expired) June 30, 2021. In its place, the governor created a housing stability “bridge” program. It lasts through September 30, 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-19-related reasons. The bridge also lifts other moratorium restrictions on landlords.

 

I am a residential tenant in Washington. I owe back rent. Am I eligible for any of these protections?

Maybe. To be protected from eviction through July 31, 2021, you must have financial hardship and cannot pay your full rent.

But to get this protection, you must fill out this form, sign it (if everything is true), and give a copy to your landlord. Keep a copy for yourself.

If you do not qualify for eviction protection under the federal moratorium, or it is after July 31, 2021, you may qualify for protection under the state bridge program. You must be a residential tenant living in Washington who owes rent due between February 29, 2020 and July 31, 2021 because of COVID-19. There are no financial requirements.

In this case, your landlord cannot send you a 14-Day Notice to Pay or Vacate until:

  1. Your landlord gives you the chance to take part in your county’s Eviction Resolution Pilot Program (ERPP);

  2. There is rental assistance available in your county and your landlord gave you information about it; and

  3. 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 also can request one using Form 1 below. You also can propose your own repayment plan using Form 2 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 either of these programs are running or October 1.

 

What is a “reasonable” repayment plan?

  • A new Washington 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 that you owe due to COVID-19. 

    For example, if you pay $900 each month in rent, the 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.

  • Repayment plans cannot require you to pay for rent owed due to COVID-19 until 30 days after the repayment plan is offered.

  • Repayment plans only include repayment for rent.  They cannot include late fees or other charges.

  • Your landlord cannot ask you to waive your rights as a tenant in any repayment plan.

*You are still responsible to pay your rent.  If you can pay all or part of it, pay it!

If your landlord is trying to evict you, get legal help right away. See below.

 

I may not be able to make August or September 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 previous months. That unpaid rent is supposed to be addressed in a reasonable repayment plan.

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

  • You make full payment for both August and September; or

  • Your landlord agreed to accept a partial payment (they do not have to agree); 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 WashingtonLawHelp.org/resource/eviction.  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 than a typical housing rental situation?

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

  • You are in a transitional housing program, such as for homeless or addiction recovery.  

  • You live in a campground.

  • You live in an Airbnb or VRBO.

  • You live in a hotel or motel. You use the hotel or motel room as your residence.

  • You are renting a room from a roommate.

  • You live at a commercial property as a caregiver or security.

  • You are living in an emergency shelter that is conditioned on participation in supportive services.

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

The bridge protections also do not apply if your name is not on the rental agreement, and you stay after the tenants on the rental agreement have left unless your landlord knew you were living there. This is called a “hold over.”

 

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 in tribal housing, the federal moratorium likely applies to you until it expires July 31, 2021.

If you live on privately owned land not held in trust on an Indian reservation (“fee land”), both the state bridge program and federal moratorium may apply. If your landlord threatens you with eviction, fill out this form. If everything in that statement is true, sign it, and give it to your landlord. And right away, get legal help. See below for how to apply.

 

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

The housing stability bridge program does not apply to you. But the City of Seattle eviction moratorium for small commercial tenants and non-profit organizations was also extended to September 30, 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 these cities below, read the information that applies to you: 

  • Burien: Eviction moratorium extended through September 30, 2021 for tenants whose failure to pay is due to a substantial reduction in household income or substantial increase in expenses related to COVID-19. A landlord must include this statement in any notice: “You may not be evicted for rent that became due during the public health emergency if the rent was unpaid because of a substantial reduction in household income or a substantial increase in expenses related to the Coronavirus pandemic. This does not relieve you of the obligation to pay back rent in the future.”

  • Seattle: Eviction moratorium extended through September 30, 2021. When that expires, a new city law will provide a defense against evictions due to hardship from COVID-19 for another six months.

  • Kenmore and Kirkland: Eviction moratoria extended through September 30, 2021 for tenants whose failure to pay is due to a substantial reduction in household income or substantial increase in expenses related to COVID-19. A landlord must include this statement in any notice: “You may not be evicted for rent that became due during the public health emergency if the rent was unpaid because of a substantial reduction in household income or a substantial increase in expenses related to the Coronavirus pandemic. This does not relieve you of the obligation to pay back rent in the future.”

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

 

My landlord is trying to evict me anyway

Get legal help right away.

  • Call the Eviction Defense Screening Line: 1-855-657-8387

  • Apply with CLEAR*Online - nwjustice.org/get-legal-help

  • Deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired callers can call the Eviction Defense Screening Line at 1-855-657-8387 using a relay service of your choice.

These programs provide free interpreters.

 

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Last Review and Update: Jul 13, 2021