Seattle (March 14, 2020) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan signed an emergency order to put into place a temporary moratorium on residential evictions, which will keep Seattle families from losing their homes as a result of impacts from the pandemic. The temporary moratorium will begin immediately in the City of Seattle for any residential eviction action related to the non-payment of rent. Tenants are required to continue paying their rent if they are able and should work with their landlords on payment plans if they are experiencing financial hardship.
“We have entered an unprecedented era for our City. Too many families are already struggling, and COVID-19 virus has disproportionately affected the communities who can least afford it. As we take steps to slow the spread of the virus across Seattle’s communities, a part of that response is to ensure that families are not displaced and forced into homelessness,” said Mayor Durkan. ”While the City will need significant state and federal resources to handle the long-term impacts of the crisis, we are charting the course for the rest of the country, and Seattle must set the example by reducing the financial hardship for workers impacted by this pandemic.”
The moratorium suspends residential evictions related to the non-payment or partial payment of rent for 30 days and also prohibits late fees or other charges for late payment of rent. Property owners may not issue “Pay or Vacate” notices for nonpayment of rent during this period nor initiate an eviction action with the courts. The order further directs that action upon existing pay or vacate notices cannot be taken. For tenants who must appear in court, the moratorium should be used as a defense. If a tenant does not appear in court, the court may grant a continuance to allow the matter to be heard at a later date, after the moratorium has lifted.
In addition to resources that may be available from the state and federal government or non-profits, Mayor Durkan is also exploring options to provide rental assistance to low-income tenants and support property owners who may be financially impacted by reduced rental income.
“No one should have to worry about losing their home in the middle of a pandemic. The City is working collectively and swiftly to adopt public health best practices in response to COVID-19. This moratorium on residential evictions meets the crisis head on, by ensuring those who need to self-isolate can safely do so at home,” said Council President M. Lorena Gonzalez, Position 9, Citywide. “The economic impact has been felt by all, particularly our hourly and minimum wage workers, some who have been laid off and unemployed due to coronavirus impacts on business. Seattle is working together to ensure we will continue to find solutions to support all people financially impacted by this crisis.”
“Housing has always been the foundation of healthy, resilient communities, and as we respond to this pandemic with public health best practices, it’s imperative to ensure that nobody is pushed out of their home because they can’t pay their rent. This measure will protect working families and our lower-income neighbors—many of whom were already struggling to make ends meet due to the lack of affordable housing and expensive rental market—with the stability they need to follow public health guidelines, and protect the health of their families and our community. As we move forward into unprecedented territory, we must take every measure to ensure housing stability for all,” said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, Position 8, Citywide.
“Evictions are the leading cause of homelessness and the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance applauds the Mayor and the City of Seattle for acting swiftly with this moratorium. As increasing numbers of workers face a reduction of hours or loss of employment, a moratorium on evictions is critical to prevent homelessness from skyrocketing. Homelessness is extremely difficult to exit once experienced, causing a downward spiral with long-term impacts. This moratorium will save countless households from extreme hardship,” said Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance.
In the coming days, the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods will develop pathways to connect with the communities most impacted to increase awareness of the additional resources and to walk them through accessing these resources.
For FAQs about the Temporary Eviction Moratorium click here.
For up to date information on COVID-19 go to Public Health – Seattle & King County.
Source: Kamaria Hightower, Kamaria.Hightower@seattle.gov