What the Eviction Moratorium Means for Landlords and Tenants
Related Practice: Real Estate
Recent orders from the City of Seattle and Governor Inslee are resulting in numerous negotiations between landlords and tenants regarding rent relief. Many tenants are having difficulty paying rent, which has a cascading economic effect on landlords’ ability to make mortgage payments and pay other operating expenses.
In the City of Seattle, residential, small business, and nonprofit tenants cannot be evicted unless necessary to ensure the health and safety of the tenant or others. Landlords are prohibited from collecting late fees, interest, or other charges in connection with the late or non-payment of rent. This does not mean that landlords and tenants should disregard their leases completely, however. Below is a summary of recent orders.
- March 16, 2020, the Seattle City Council expanded the scope of Mayor Durkan’s March 14th emergency order to stop all residential evictions, including evictions for non-payment of rent and holding over after the end of the lease term. The duration of the order is 60 days unless the civil emergency proclamation is terminated earlier.
- March 17, 2020, Mayor Durkan issued another emergency order temporarily halting evictions of small business and nonprofit tenants in the City of Seattle based on non-payment of rent or expiring lease terms. Any independently owned business with 50 or fewer employees per establishment is covered by this order, as well as state nonprofits and 501(c)(3) companies. The small business and nonprofit eviction moratorium is in effect for 60 days unless the civil emergency proclamation is terminated earlier.
- March 18, 2020, Governor Inslee announced a 30-day statewide moratorium on residential evictions.
Any pending eviction actions for non-payment of rent were allowed to be continued until after the end of the moratorium. Any new eviction actions cannot be filed until the end of the moratorium unless necessary to ensure the health and safety of the tenant or others. In addition, Governor Inslee’s recent extension of the stay-at-home order could result in the extension of one or more of these moratoriums.
Notwithstanding these orders, tenants are still required to pay rent during the moratorium. Each of these orders encourages any tenant that will have difficulty paying rent due to the pandemic to contact their landlords. The orders also encourage landlords to work with their tenants to form a payment plan or other workout agreement to assist distressed tenants.
To protect each party’s rights under existing leases, any changes to rent payment schedules or other lease modifications should be made in writing.
Please contact a member of our Real Estate Group if you have questions or need assistance.