Coronavirus (COVID-19): Should I enter into a rent repayment plan with my landlord?
Authored By: Northwest Justice Project
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If you couldn't pay rent that was due during the pandemic, learn why and how to ask your landlord for a repayment plan. #6341EN
- Why would I need a repayment plan?
- How do I decide if a repayment plan is reasonable?
- What if the landlord doesn’t offer me a reasonable repayment plan?
- What if I agree to a repayment plan and fail to pay?
- Do I have to pay rent after the moratorium ends?
- Can I get help paying the rent?
- My landlord is trying to evict me now.
*Read this only if you live in the state of Washington.
Update! Eviction law is changing quickly, and the eviction moratorium is scheduled to end June 30. Read about changes to the law at Washington State New 2021 Landlord/Tenant Legislation and check back for updates.
Why would I need a repayment plan?
Renters have a right to ask for a repayment plan to pay rent that was due since March 1, 2020 and up to the end of 2021, which you could not pay because of the pandemic. The Governor's moratorium and a new law, SB 5160, both give renters a right to ask for a repayment agreement for unpaid rent.
During Washington's eviction moratorium, renters cannot be evicted for not paying rent if they couldn't because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That eviction moratorium is set to end on June 30, 2021. If the governor does not extend the moratorium, and you owe rent, your landlord can give you a 14-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Vacate. If you do not pay within the 14 days, your landlord could start an eviction case.
However, before a landlord can give you that 14-Day Notice, they must also offer you a reasonable repayment plan or schedule.
These laws apply to any rent owed between March 1, 2020 and the end of 2021. Rent includes your monthly rent and also other monthly charges you pay to your landlord, like utilities. The law also says that you have to pay your current rent.
How do I decide if a repayment plan is reasonable?
Until June 30, all repayment plans must be based on a tenant's individual circumstances. There are no specific rules and tenants can negotiate with their landlord on what they are able to pay. See our sample Form #2 if you want to start a payment plan before the moratorium ends.
After June 30, the new state law also requires repayment agreements to be reasonable. Payment plans cannot be more than 1/3 of your monthly rent. For example, if you pay $900 each month in rent, the repayment agreement can't require more than $300 of you each month. If you can't afford an extra $300 on top of your monthly rent because your income went down due to COVID or your expenses went up, it may be unreasonable.
If you can't afford a repayment plan, you should discuss with the landlord what you can afford to pay and how you will seek rental assistance to help with the debt.
What if the landlord doesn't offer me a reasonable repayment plan?
If your landlord doesn't offer or agree to a reasonable plan, they cannot try to collect the rent or win an eviction against you. They cannot report it on your credit, sue you to collect it, or evict you for not paying it.
What if I agree to a repayment plan and fail to pay?
You have 14 days to agree to a repayment plan that is offered by the landlord.
You should only agree to a repayment plan if you are sure you can pay it. Do not feel pressured to agree to something you cannot pay. If you are pressured, make a complaint to the Attorney General's Office. (Contact information below.)
If you fail to pay as agreed in a repayment plan, the landlord can try to evict you.
Do I have to pay rent after the moratorium ends?
Yes. If you do not pay rent after the moratorium, you could be evicted.
There is a state law that may give you options about when your rent is due. Read Can I Change the Date My Rent is Due. This can also help you avoid late fees.
Can I get help paying the rent?
Maybe. You should try multiple sources for payment assistance, including:
Visit any of these websites:
Try calling 2-1-1 or visit wa211.org and ask about rental assistance.
Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) has programs you might qualify for. Apply online, or call the DSHS customer service contact center at 877-501-2233.
Check the Rental Housing Association of Washington, under "Financial Assistance for Renters"
Check online for an Associate Economic Development Organization (ADO) near you.
My landlord is trying to evict me now.
Get legal help right away.
Use the Eviction Defense Helper at WashingtonLawHelp.org.
Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help.
Also, let the state Attorney General's office know that your landlord is trying to evict you.
We also have sample forms below that you can use, depending on your situation.