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Coronavirus (COVID-19): You cannot be evicted during the crisis unless you are causing a health or safety threat on your property

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project
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Current information on what to do if you cannot pay your rent during the COVID-19 crisis. Includes sample letters to your landlord if you receive an eviction notice or if you can't pay the rent. #6308EN

Contents

Video - Washington's Eviction Moratorium: NJP Attorneys Answer Frequently Asked Questions From Tenants

 

 

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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. They have lost income and cannot make those payments. 

If this describes you, you should know that between now and June 4, 2020, 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 for any reason except one that says you are causing an imminent threat to health or safety.

A landlord may not go to court to get a writ against you for not paying the rent and may not try to force you to move even if you agreed to move out in a stipulation or other agreement.

A landlord may not force you to move to a smaller rental if you cannot pay the rent.

A landlord may not raise the rent or increase your deposit between now and June 4.

A landlord may not charge late fees for any rent payment that you paid late or could not pay starting February 29, 2020, or report a debt for rent on your credit.  

A landlord must offer you a reasonable payment plan if you cannot pay the rent. This has to be based on your own circumstances. The same payment plan to the entire building doesn't count. You can use one of the sample letters below to propose a payment plan that works for you.

Can the landlord still evict me for other reasons?

A landlord can only give you an eviction notice if you are causing an immediate and significant health or safety threat on the property. Having COVID-19 does not count. One example of such a threat is if you are damaging the property in a way that is harmful to others, like doing something that could cause a fire and refusing to fix it.

A landlord may not give you a 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 unless the court order says that it is because you caused a significant and immediate health or safety problem. 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?

Yes!

My living arrangement is different.

The moratorium covers anyone who pays rent to live in any type of place. Here are some examples. This is not a complete list:

  • You live in a motor home or RV you own. You rent the lot the motor home sits on.

  • You live in transitional housing.  

  • You live in a camping area.

  • You live in an Airbnb.

  • You live in a hotel or motel. You occupy the hotel or motel room as your residence, as opposed to a place to stay for a few nights during travel.

  • You are renting a room from a roommate.

  • You live at a commercial property as a caregiver or security. You pay rent to live there.

I live in public housing or other type of government housing.

You have even more protection. Read Coronavirus: On March 27, 2020, Congress stopped evictions for not paying rent in many federally funded housing programs.

I could not live in or move into the place due to COVID-19. For example, my college closed, or I was laid off from my seasonal job.

A landlord may not charge you rent for a place you could not live in due to COVID-19.

I rent a storefront or other commercial space.

If COVID-19 has greatly affected you or your business, a landlord may not raise your rent, or threaten to.

My landlord is trying to evict me anyway.

Get legal help right away. Call

Contact the state Attorney General's office and let them know your landlord is trying to evict you.

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 or part of it, do not skip this responsibility!

Download Sample Letters to Landlord

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Last Review and Update: May 01, 2020
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