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WashingtonLawHelp.orgWashington LawHelp

My Seattle landlord is trying to evict me

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project
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Tenants renting or trying to rent in Seattle during the COVID-19 pandemic have extra protections against eviction, on top of what the Governor’s eviction moratorium does for tenants statewide. There also is a federal moratorium currently in place. #6360EN

Contents

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*Read this only if you live in Seattle, Washington.

 

I live in the City of Seattle, should I read this?

Yes, if you rent a place to live in Seattle or are trying to rent a place to live there.

Tenants renting or trying to rent in Seattle during the COVID-19 pandemic have extra protections against eviction, on top of what the Governor's eviction moratorium does for tenants statewide. There also is a federal moratorium currently in place.

*Housing laws, temporary bans on evictions, and the ways courts are handling evictions are changing quickly and may be different depending on which county you live in. Get the latest information and learn about help for evictions in your area at:  Coronavirus (COVID-19):  Coronavirus (COVID-19): There are only a few reasons your landlord can evict you right nowThese temporary protections do not mean you do not owe rent. Pay what you can now, so that you do not owe more later.

*Your landlord cannot evict you right now, under most circumstances.

Seattle has banned most evictions of its residential tenants through December 31, 2020 or until Seattle's declared civil emergency ends, whichever is earlier. During this time, you cannot be evicted for not paying rent or for "no cause." You should not get a 14-Day or 20-Day Notice to Pay or Vacate.

There are a few exceptions to this: 

  • Your landlord can give you an eviction notice if you, your roommate or guest are engaging in drug-related or other criminal activity that affects others' health or safety; or

  • There is major property damage.

If you receive a notice from your landlord that they intend to live in or sell the place, see Coronavirus (COVID-19):  Coronavirus (COVID-19): There are only a few reasons your landlord can evict you right now. And see below for getting legal help.

 

Can my landlord charge me late fees or interest on overdue rent?

No. Landlords may not charge you late fees or interest on overdue rent owed during the Seattle moratorium or for 1 year after Seattle's declared civil emergency ends.

 

Non-payment due to COVID-19 is a defense to eviction. This defense is good for six months after Seattle's moratorium ends.

If your inability to pay rent is because of COVID-19, you have a legal defense to eviction during the Seattle eviction moratorium and for 6 months after it ends. Examples: You lost your daycare job because the state closed daycare centers or you got COVID-19 and had to be quarantined.

If you get a 14-day pay or vacate notice, you must self-certify in writing that your financial hardship and inability to pay rent is related to COVID-19. See the sample letter below. Give a copy of this self-certification to the landlord.

All 14-day pay-or-vacate notices from your landlord must tell you about this defense. If the landlord does not put this information in a notice to pay or vacate, that is also a defense to eviction.

 

Do I have to pay overdue rent I owe?

 

Yes. You still are responsible for paying overdue rent. To help with that, your landlord must accept a payment plan for rent owed during Seattle's moratorium and for 6 months after Seattle's civil emergency ends. If you are:

  • 1 month overdue = the landlord must let you make 3 monthly payments in a row

  • 1-2 months overdue = the landlord must let you make 3-5 monthly payments in a row

  • 2+ months overdue = the landlord must let you make 6 monthly payments in a row

  • Or an alternative plan you both agree upon

 

I have applied for a rental. I was evicted from my last place for COVID-19-related reasons. Can this new landlord turn me down because of my COVID-19-related eviction history?

No. A landlord cannot turn a potential tenant down for housing based on COVID-19 related eviction history during the moratorium and for 6 months after Seattle's civil emergency ends. A landlord can only use your eviction history if you were evicted for causing an immediate threat to health and safety.

*Eviction history includes court filings, eviction notices, and any notice the landlord gave you that they intended to evict you.

Rental applications must state this information.

If a landlord breaks any part of this rule, contact the Seattle Office for Civil Rights:  www.seattle.gov/civilrights/file-complaint.

To learn more about renters' protections in Seattle, call the Renting in Seattle helpline at 206-684-5700 or visit www.seattle.gov/rentinginseattle. The website has information in multiple languages.

 

Get legal help

Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help. 

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Download Sample Certification Letter

Last Review and Update: Nov 06, 2020
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