Coronavirus: You Cannot be Evicted if You Cannot Pay the Rent
Authored By: Northwest Justice Project
- Read this in:
- Spanish / Español
Current information on what to do if you cannot pay your rent during the COVID-19 crisis. #6308EN
On 4/1/20 WashingtonLawHelp attorney-editors had a conversation with 2 of NJP's housing attorneys about rent, the eviction moratorium, and other issues faced by tenants in WA during the time of the coronavirus crisis. Watch the video to hear what has and has not changed. You can jump to specific questions using the time-code links below.
QUESTIONS and TIMECODES:
00:22 Does an eviction moratorium mean that you don't have to pay rent?
01:21 What should a tenant do if they can't pay rent?
02:25 Can you explain what the Washington "eviction moratorium" means?
04:48 Are sheriffs still enforcing eviction orders and making people leave?
06:19 What if a landlord tries to evict someone during the moratorium?
07:40 Does the eviction moratorium work the same way in mobile/manufactured home parks?
09:00 What if a landlord wants to enter your your rental unit while we're supposed to be "social distancing?"
11:11 Do you expect to see any other big changes in landlord/tenant law in the near future?
12:28 How are Section 8 Voucher holders affected during the coronavirus crisis?
13:58 Are Housing Authorities still processing applications and terminating subsidies right now?
***This is general information only and may not apply to your unique situation. You should try to talk to a lawyer for specific legal advice. This video does not create an attorney-client relationship.
- What is this eviction moratorium?
- Can the landlord still evict me for other reasons?
- Can the sheriff still put me out?
- I own the mobile home I live in. I rent the lot. Does the eviction moratorium apply to me?
- I live in public housing.
- My landlord is trying to evict me anyway.
This applies to landlords who rent you a place to live in Washington State only.
What is this eviction moratorium?
You may be required to pay rent and utilities under your rental agreement (lease). Many people right now find themselves in an emergency where they have lost their income and cannot pay rent or utilities.
If this describes you, you should know that between now and April 17, a landlord may not try to evict you if you cannot pay the rent.
A landlord may not serve you with a notice of unlawful detainer.
A landlord may not go to court to get a writ against you for not paying the rent.
Can the landlord still evict me for other reasons?
A landlord can only give you a 20-day notice for unlawful detainer if it is needed to ensure someone's health and safety.
A landlord may not give you a 10-day notice to comply or vacate if you could not pay the rent this month.
A landlord may not make you enter a payment plan if you lose your job and cannot pay the rent, and then try to give you a 10-day notice when you cannot follow the payment plan.
Can the sheriff still put me out?
Law enforcement (the sheriff) may not enforce (carry out) eviction orders based only on non-payment of rent. They probably can still enforce evictions for other reasons.
Your local court may have added other requirements. Contact them directly to ask.
I own the mobile home I live in. I rent the lot. Does the eviction moratorium apply to me?
I live in public housing.
You have even more protection at this time. Read Coronavirus: On March 27, 2020, Congress stopped evictions for not paying rent in many federally funded housing programs.
My landlord is trying to evict me anyway.
Get legal help right away. Call
- Housing Justice Project at (253) 234-4204 in King County
- CLEAR Hotline at 1-888-201-1014 in all other counties
- Your local volunteer lawyer program: check the list at to find one in your county
We also have sample letters that you can use, depending on your situation.
You are still responsible to pay your rent. Washington's "eviction moratorium" just pauses the court process. If you can pay the rent, do not skip this responsibility!