A statewide moratorium on evictions meant to prevent a wave of homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic was recently extended to Oct. 15.
The moratorium, first proclaimed in mid-March, was set to expire Aug. 1. Late last week, Gov. Jay Inslee announced the extension along with new rules for social gatherings that will further delay reopening the economy, which means some tenants still may not be able to pay rent.
During the press conference, Inslee emphasized that tenants who can need to pay rent. The moratorium “is for the folks who are really in tough times,” he said.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest Household Pulse Survey, 15 percent of adults missed last month’s rent or mortgage payment, or have little to no confidence that they can pay on time next month.
To help address this, Washington was awarded $100 million in CARES Act funding at the end of June that will soon be put toward rental assistance.
His advice to renters: “Don’t be afraid. You have protections in place and there’s a system in place.”
Tenants should not have to be looking at new apartments or doubling up with others if they don’t have to, he said.
“First and foremost, they’re entitled to shelter in place,” Knab said. “If their landlord told them they have to leave, they don’t have to leave.”
Quinn Posner, owner and attorney with NW Landlord Solutions, said extreme problems with the moratorium are few and far between, but there are occasional problematic tenants.
One situation he’s trying to address is a tenant who’s had more people move into the unit. People are now coming and going all hours of the night, which is distressing the neighbors.
The income that one unit was producing is gone, similar to someone’s hours being reduced at work, Braithwait said. For other landlords who own a single duplex or triplex, they may be experiencing a much larger cut in income if a tenant isn’t paying rent.
While larger landlords can afford to weather the pandemic, smaller landlords may be in a different financial situation. It’s not tenable long term, Braithwait said, adding there may come a point where landlords cannot pay their mortgages.
At some point, she plans to sell her 11-unit building, she said, but not until after the pandemic is over.
“I’ll just keep waiting this out,” Braithwait said.
By Sept. 15, the state plans to assemble an informal workgroup with stakeholders and legislators with experience in housing issues, though it’s unclear if there will be representation from Southwest Washington.