COVID-19 eviction moratorium extended


For those struggling to pay rent because their employment has been affected by COVID-19, the good news is that Washington State’s eviction moratorium has been extended until Oct. 15.

The not-so-good news for the renter – but great news for the landlord – is that all that rent is still owed to your landlord.

“The moratorium is only for not paying your rent if you have been impacted by a job loss, reduced income or have been ill because of COVID-19,” explained Julie Galligan, housing counselor at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor.

“I have had a few calls about the moratorium and now realize that many people are not fully understanding that this is not a summer break from paying their rent!” she said.

Again, the moratorium is just that – a break of time when landlords cannot start the eviction process for not paying rent if COVID-19 is the reason for the non-payment. All the rent is still owed to the landlord. This legislation just gives renters more time to come up with the money to pay the rent.

The four-month long federal eviction moratorium expired July 24. This was the moratorium that stopped foreclosures on federally backed mortgages for homeowners and landlords of federally backed multi-family properties.

It’s the Washington State moratorium that has been extended through Oct. 15.

Washington’s Eviction Moratorium stops many, but not all evictions. For instance, renters cannot be evicted for not paying rent or for “no cause.” And, renters should not get a 14-day or 20-day termination notice during this time.

However, renters may still be evicted if they cause an immediate and significant health and safety problem.

If you are a renter struggling to pay rent because of COVID-19, work with your landlord to create a reasonable payment plan and make sure to get that plan in writing!

Letters to send to Landlord

If you need help writing a letter to send to your landlord to set up a reasonable payment plan, example letters are available at www.WashingtonLawHelp.org. This website also includes more free legal information, forms and videos.

If your landlord tries to evict you, try to get legal help right away. You can call the Northwest Justice Project’s CLEAR Hotline at 1-888-201-1014 from 9:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. weekdays.

In addition, you can file a complaint with the Washington Attorney General at www.atg.wa.gov, or by calling (833) 660-4877.

Can I be evicted for other reasons?

During this moratorium, a landlord can only give you an eviction notice in these situations:

  • The landlord intends to sell the place. However, in this case, the landlord must give you 60 days of notice.

  • The landlord is going to live in the place themselves. Again, however, the landlord must give 60 days of notice.

  • You are causing an immediate and significant threat to the health, safety or property of others on the property. (Having COVID-19 doesn’t count!) One example of such a threat is if you are doing something that could cause a fire and are refusing to discontinue and fix it.

Does moratorium include this?

For the moratorium to apply, you must have lived in the place for more than 14 days.

The moratorium covers anyone who pays rent to live in any type of place. Here are some examples.

  • You live in a motor home or RV you own, but 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, occupying the room as your residence, not as 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 guard. You pay rent to live there.

What about if ... ?

The coronavirus has so many far-reaching effects; there are some unusual housing situations that may have changed.

For instance, if you live in public housing or other type of government housing you actually have additional protection. On March 27, Congress stopped evictions for not paying rent in many federally funded housing programs.

It seems to go without saying, but if for someone reason you could not live in or move into a new place because of COVID-19 – like a college dorm because the college closed, or seasonal housing, because you were laid off from your seasonal job – a landlord may not charge you for rent!

In addition, if you rent a storefront or other commercial space and the coronavirus has greatly affected you or your business, a landlord may not raise your rent, or threaten to, unless the rental increases were agreed to before Feb. 29.

Recapping the basics

Washington’s eviction moratorium simply pauses the court process when payment becomes an issue because of COVID-19. It gives renters extra time, if needed, through Oct. 15 to pay their rent.

While it gives you time – it doesn’t give you extra money! So, remember that you are responsible for the entire bill. Make a payment plan with your landlord to pay as much as you can each month and remember you cannot skip the responsibility of paying in full.

If you have questions, give us a call and housing counselor Julie Galligan can help you find the information you need.

remember you cannot skip the responsibility of paying in full.

If you have questions, give us a call and housing counselor Julie Galligan can help you find the information you need.

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