City extends eviction moratorium for residences, nonprofits, small businesses, and other pandemic-relief measures

The city is extending the eviction moratorium for residences, nonprofits, and small businesses until the end of March. Mayor Jenny Durkan has signed a new executive order (read it here). Here’s an excerpt from the announcement:

While the residential eviction moratorium is in place in Seattle, property owners may not issue notices of termination or otherwise initiate an eviction action with the courts unless there is an imminent threat to the health and safety of the community. Along with halting evictions, the order also prevents tenants from incurring late fees, interest, or other charges due to late payment of rent during the moratorium. However, tenants are still legally obligated to pay rent during the moratorium and landlords are encouraged to offer flexible payment plans. Residential tenants who receive any eviction notice during the moratorium should contact the Renting in Seattle hotline at 206‐684‐5700 or go online to submit a complaint. The City of Seattle has committed $18 million to rental assistance in addition to state and King County resources for landlords and tenants. The City of Seattle is closely following any action taken at the state and federal level regarding moratoriums.

The moratorium on eviction of nonprofit and small business commercial tenants apply to independently owned businesses with 50 employees or fewer per establishment, state nonprofits, and 501(c)(3) nonprofits. Along with halting evictions, the order also prevents eligible small businesses and nonprofits from incurring late fees, interest, or other charges due to late payment during the moratorium. For additional questions, please see the Office of Economic Development’s COVID-19 Lease Amendment Tool Kit.

The mayor’s order also extends other pandemic-relief measures including suspension of the 72-hour parking rule and continuation of temporary loading/pickup parking zones for restaurants and retailers. The announcement also notes that with City Council approval earlier this week, utility-payment late fees remain suspended.

50 Replies to "City extends eviction moratorium for residences, nonprofits, small businesses, and other pandemic-relief measures"

  • Flo B December 16, 2020 (12:38 pm)

    I REALLY hope people read the fine print that they STILL OWE all rent/utility payments. I have, sadly encountered people that think this means they won’t have to pay back rent/utility bills.  Also, the feds have given landlords/utility companies the right to charge late fees/penalties. Time will tell if the city can/will enforce their no penalty clauses. 

    • A December 16, 2020 (1:31 pm)

      I totally agree…The sad part:  if you can’t afford rent now, and you’re just getting by, the last thing you’re doing is saving up for the entire year of back rent. It’s going to be a mess next spring. 

  • Anonymous Coward December 16, 2020 (12:47 pm)

    Did the announcement just accidentally leave out the part about a moratorium on the collection of impacted landlords’ property taxes?

  • momosmom December 16, 2020 (1:28 pm)

    I understand the reasoning of this moratorium and it is keeping a roof over peoples heads that more than likely would be out on the streets but in the long run it will just destroy all involved.IMO this is not good. 

    • BBILL December 16, 2020 (2:28 pm)

      Will you explain more about your basic claim that “it will just destroy all involved?”

      • momosmom December 16, 2020 (3:29 pm)

        Yes BBILL I will explain my claim. 1st- If the renter doesn’t pay all monies owed come April1st then the landlord can send them to Collections.2nd –  If the Landlord doesn’t get the monies owed then they also can be sent to Collections because if I’m correct “most” Landlords are not Millionaires. 3rd- No monies from tenants, no money from Landlord to pay the Electric, Gas, Garbage… To me that can destroy a lot of people, their credit ratings, eligible to rent again… correct me I’m wrong.

        • BBILL December 16, 2020 (4:06 pm)

          Well if future standards are what you’re suggesting, then maybe, but after eliminating all the tenants, who do the landlords expect to rent to? My bet is going to be that there will be plenty of landlords who recognize that 2020 was a crap show, so there will be many who are willing to rent to those who could not pay in 2020. As far as the ability of landlords to collect several months worth of rent that the tenant could not pay during the period of no income, I note that the tenant could not pay a different landlord, and thus it’s not like another landlord could have obtained rents from the tenant. Put differently, if all the tenants who could not pay were evicted, who would the landlord rent to? Ultimately there is little difference in that when tenants do not have income they cannot pay landlords.

          • momosmom December 16, 2020 (4:55 pm)

            @BBILL…There’s a lot people out there who can and will rent these apt./homes and will also pay their monthly rent when due.I feel saddened for all the people affected by this Pandemic and wish them quick financial recovery. Landlords will have people to rent to, not as you think.“Put differently, if all the tenants who could not pay were evicted, who would the landlord rent to? Ultimately there is little difference in that when tenants do not have income they cannot pay landlords.”

          • BBILL December 16, 2020 (5:37 pm)

            momosmom- Go ahead and explain, how do unemployed tenants pay rents?

          • momosmom December 16, 2020 (5:48 pm)

            @BBILL Did I say these people who could rent were unemployed? Not everyone is unemployed, there are still a lot of people who are still working their 40 hour plus work week, those are the people who would rent.

          • BBILL December 16, 2020 (5:59 pm)

            momosmom- You did not need to say that people are unemployed, as that should be a fact that we agree on. If not, there is plenty of data available suggesting that the number of people employed today is much, much lower than a year ago. Thus *SOMEONE* is unemployed that was not last year. Assuming that tenants are generally impacted more or the same as owners (i.e. tenants have greater rates of job losses than owners, then there are tenants who cannot pay today that were able to a year ago. Now, sure, I need to so some more work regarding matching the number of tenants to the number of available units, but with some reasonable nice assumptions, it should be total obvious that landlords cannot collect rents from those who cannot pay, and thus they cannot simply rent to someone else who can pay, because those tenants already have places, or are unemployed. Now, yes, sure there is always some migration, so it would be difficult to identify which landlord would be the lucky one. Whatever the case, when suddenly there is a spike in tenants who cannot pay, the total rents paid to landlords will go down. How that happens, and not if, is the topic at hand.

          • Nigel December 16, 2020 (6:03 pm)

            Landlords could rent to Section 8 tenants since their rent payment is guaranteed by the government. Also Section 8 tenants have had to prove their financial status. A reasonable compromise would be for non-paying tenants to have to pay 25% of their unemployment benefits to the landlord, or verify their inability to pay. It is easy to think of landlords as some super rich faceless mega-corporation but many landlords are small “mom & pop” landlords struggling through this same pandemic except they still must pay property tax, insurance, mortgage, and by city law even the utilities for tenants that stop paying both their rent & utilities.

          • BBILL December 16, 2020 (6:27 pm)

            NIGEL- Section 8 is not as simple as you make it out to be, but beyond that, the Section 8 funding is not infinite. As suggested above, if someone is in the Section 8 program moves into a new place, that leaves their former landlord seeking a new tenant.

          • CAM December 16, 2020 (8:36 pm)

            I’d also prefer that people prioritize spending the reduced income they receive from unemployment on things like food and medication. Landlords and any agency impacted by this moratorium are required to develop reasonable payment plans that enable tenants to repay this debt once the moratorium is lifted so we should not be seeing a lot of people sent to collections if the letter of the law is being respected. 

          • B.W. December 17, 2020 (1:28 pm)

            Ok BBill you have an answer for everything. Well one thing you can’t educate me on is having a Section 8 tenant.  Because I am a landlord who has rented ONLY to Section 8 tenants for 14 years. And there there are plenty of Section 8 tenants ready to move in to your property at any given time. My current tenant started their contract in March of this year. And boy,  I haven’t stressed one bit about missing a payment. So if you are a landlord that doesn’t want to deal with people that potentially can’t pay rent, I suggest sprucing up your rental property and applying to Section 8 as an approved property and I promise you, finding Section 8 renters will not be difficult. Even today with the pandemic. 

          • BBILL December 18, 2020 (1:45 pm)

            “So if you are a landlord that doesn’t want to deal with people that
            potentially can’t pay rent, I suggest sprucing up your rental property
            and applying to Section 8 as an approved property and I promise you,
            finding Section 8 renters will not be difficult. Even today with the
            pandemic.” Yes, I am very familiar with Section 8, and I’m happy it’s all working out for you. My personal experience with Section 8 is much different. Possibly our units are of different quality.

  • Jim December 16, 2020 (2:19 pm)

    If people don’t pay their rent on time, then how does a landlord pay the mortgage to the house that they are renting out? 

    • Duffy December 16, 2020 (3:48 pm)

      I think this is called “risk”.

      • Eric1 December 16, 2020 (5:45 pm)

        Good point Duffy but you are not thinking it through. The government is interfering and preventing landlords from mitigating their risk by finding a new tenant that can pay. If the government is going to interfere, the government should be ready to pay.  States complain about how wrong unfunded federal mandates are all the time. I guess citizens can complain about local government unfunded mandates and how wrong they are.  Neither party is likely to get any relief when the  “court” that decides the legality of said unfunded mandates has a vested interest in who wins.

        • BBILL December 16, 2020 (6:13 pm)

          “The government is interfering and preventing landlords from mitigating their risk by finding a new tenant that can pay.” In every industry, there is always a risk of changing governmental regulations. To suggest that changing governmental regulations is “government interference” is absurd.

        • Duffy December 17, 2020 (8:52 am)

          Oh I’m thinking it plenty through. A simple question was asked which warranted a simple answer. Government regulates everything, everywhere, all the time. Doesn’t matter what context; outside factors drive new or adjusted government regulation, which in turn creates “unforeseen” risk factors. It’s really not that complicated. Landlords have recourse; it is up to them as a “guild” to exercise their rights and go after tenants for back rents. Best of luck to them. I’m not for or against what the government is doing in this situation, by the way. Simply stating a fact that this falls into the risk category of operating a business enterprise subject to government regulation.

          • Duffy December 17, 2020 (9:48 am)

            I’ll also add that individual landlords LOOOOOVE to play the “mom and pop” card when it comes to rental properties. Notwithstanding the institutional differences between these types and the large corporate property owners who hold rentals in their portfolios, renters are still renters and will forever be afforded protections. Again, this is a matter of fact. Like it or not, “mom and pop” landlords are just like “mom and pop” business owners and take on similar risks in a pandemic.

          • Eric1 December 17, 2020 (12:14 pm)

            Ahh, I get your point.  I guess I misinterpreted your response as a flippant anger towards landlords. But you are correct that governments do choose winners and losers and you risk that at all times of life and Seattle is no different than most of the country with rent deferrals as it is likely the lesser of many evils. 

  • TJ December 16, 2020 (2:34 pm)

    The government needs to stay out of the business between 2 private parties. This is just kicking the can down the road on what will be a worse financial problem for many. Its possible a landlord could be owed over $20K in some cases by March. Are the tenants saving up to pay this back now? Even with a payment plan, renters could be paying double normal rent to pay off what they owe. And you can count on some of the city council demanding back rent forgiveness. If people really want rents to go down here then the government needs to stay out of this.

    • BBILL December 16, 2020 (3:16 pm)

      “The government needs to stay out of the business between 2 private parties.” Eviction being solely decided by a private landlord is not a society where many people want to live.

      • WSB December 16, 2020 (3:21 pm)

        Also of note is that the government is called in to enforce evictions – judges issue unlawful-detainer/writ of restitution orders; the King County Sheriff’s Office serves them.

    • Michelle December 17, 2020 (7:46 am)

      Thank-You TJ.    Well written!

    • Renter December 18, 2020 (12:20 am)

      How will rents go down if the government backs off? This is Seattle, rent does nothing but ride every year if not twice a year in some cases. 

  • Flo B December 16, 2020 (2:34 pm)

    A. Agree. If your rent/utility bill adds up to $2,000 a month and you have not been able to pay for 8 month’s you will get a bill for $16,000 in addition to your next payment!!. I’m not sure everyone has paid attention to that fact. If people don’t have the funds now this will bury you in debt for years to come. People associate “the big one” to an earthquake. We ALL need to recognize the FINANCIAL earthquake that WILL happen and affect ALL of us one way or another.

    • BBILL December 16, 2020 (3:00 pm)

      The $16,000 is paid on a much different schedule than the ongoing $2,000. This does, however, get the expectation about whether the $16,000 is collectable–I expect that some people will simply move, leaving their former landlord to collect the $16,000.

      • wetone December 16, 2020 (3:55 pm)

        This is already happening, I know a few people that own rentals they bought to help with retirement. There not retiring as planned now and 1 just sold rental as they couldn’t carry the extra payments. Had  another friend that paid 5k to renter to get them out, now has house sitting empty. Durkin’s worth what $50-$100mil maybe Durkin needs to step up and pay the owed rents. Let Durkin collect all owed monies. It would be no different than what’s happening to the landlords………………..

        • BBILL December 16, 2020 (4:22 pm)

          “…now has house sitting empty.” What I’m reading is that the owner is not collecting any rent now, or the few months before paying the $5k. On the topic of things not going as I planned, I’m not able to use the West Seattle Bridge, as I planned.

          • Resident December 16, 2020 (6:14 pm)

            In all of your posts above two things are very apparent:1. You are trolling people. You should find something better to do with your time. You are not adding value to the conversation.2. You hate landlords. Not sure why but you certainly don’t leave any doubt. Not sure why but you do you.

          • wetone December 16, 2020 (6:35 pm)

            Yes house sitting empty = no more damage from tenants and there free to do what they want with it. It’s called cutting losses. Evidently you’ve never owned a rental or business or tried collecting money owed. What’s WS bridge have to do with anything ? If you owned bridge, paying taxes on it and maintain it to city standards but could not use it or charge one to drive on it then you might understand;) 

  • Mj December 16, 2020 (3:08 pm)

    The rent and utilities are being deferred not eliminated.  This hurts small landlords that depend on timely payments to pay their bills and taxes. 

    The tenants are digging a deep hole, this policy is going to bite a lot of people.  Making tenants pay at least half of the rent and defer the balance reduces the depth of the hole and helps the small landlords stay current on their mortgage and taxes.  A more equitable approach.

    • BBILL December 16, 2020 (3:59 pm)

      Not sure how someone would have paid “at least half of the rent” the first month, right away, when in so many cases unemployment didn’t pay for 10+ weeks.

  • flimflam December 16, 2020 (4:16 pm)

    As others have said, if the rent is indeed deffered, how would someone pay back rent for 10 months if they couldn’t for one month? I am not cheering for anyone’s eviction, but this is very unfair to landlords, especially small-time ones. This should not be the burden of the landlords.

    • Peter S. December 16, 2020 (6:45 pm)

      This.  The (almost) last thing any landlord wants is a vacancy.  Most landlords I know were making plans to work with their financially-impacted tenants the moment COVID shutdowns started.  The reality is most tenants are still paying on time, some are unable to pay, and a very few are abusing the situation by refusing to pay even though they could.  I don’t have the stats, but many rental properties carry a mortgage that the owner is still obligated to pay on time.  Also property taxes, insurance, maintenance costs, etc.   Few landlords have pockets deep enough to sustain a lengthy stretch of no rent coming in.  Between this, Seattle’s limitations on tenant screening and regulations on who you must rent to, on top of the normal risks associated with rental properties, few people are currently  interested in acquiring rental property.  Consequently, some very nice apartment buildings in West Seattle are languishing on the market right now while the rest of the real estate market is going gangbusters.   Single family homes are a hot commodity and as rentals will become even scarcer as (I believe) landlords can still evict if the property is sold.   Why bother with a risky rental when potential buyers are lining up to buy just about anything on the market?  Especially if you can’t collect the rent.  Then add the spectre of the city possibly decreeing some form of rent forgiveness.  The likely result  is  small-time landlords will become fewer and renters will be left to deal with (largely) faceless corporate entities who have the resources and stomach to deal with the Seattle bureaucracy, and who’s only motive is maximum profit.  Not personal relationships with long-time tenants.   Then, Seattle politicians will again publicly lament the lack of affordable housing.Put another way:  everybody needs a roof over their heads and they also need to eat, but nobody is seriously suggesting that grocery stores be required to give food away.  if the government wishes to usurp private property rights, then they should  be willing to financially assist impacted property owners.

    • kim December 16, 2020 (6:59 pm)

      I don’t know.  I am a really small-time landlord.  The tenants in my two little rentals have been able to pay the rent–and I feel very fortunate, as I have mortgages for both.  However, I prepared myself for the eventuality that rent might not be paid–and you know what?  I could live with that.  I would not defer the rent, but just just let it go.  Suck it up.  Feel extremely lucky that I have a house over my head, that my family has avoided becoming COVID ill, that I have a job, and it’s a job I continue to love.  That’s just my perspective.

  • Flo B December 16, 2020 (4:29 pm)

    BBILL. People can simply walk away. But doubt anybody rented without providing id to the landlord. That let’s them go to court and get judgements which will follow people around until they’ve paid everything back. Read a story on the internet a couple of months ago. The utility(Duke energy?) said that as soon as it was legal they were ABSOLUTELY going after people that were behind. They would get every penny back and absolutely charge late fees/penalties,whatever they could. They would also disconnect . Their reason:”we can’t afford to be a charity” Do you, or anybody else believe this won’t happen???

    • BBILL December 16, 2020 (5:40 pm)

      A landlord cannot evict someone who left. Someone who claims another owes money can file in court and seek a judgment, and if a judgment is obtained, such may not be collectible.

  • Flo B December 16, 2020 (5:12 pm)

    Per KIRO news tonight. There are 170,000 renters/small business owners unable to pay rent.

  • Diane December 16, 2020 (5:55 pm)

    this is literally saving lives during covid; grateful 

  • WestJack December 16, 2020 (7:02 pm)

    Within Section 10 of the US Constitution, it is written that a State is not allowed to pass any
    law that “impairs the obligation of contracts”. This is known as the
    Contracts Clause.I’m guessing close to 100% of renters have a contract with the landlord. It’s an easy out for the government to just say no rent is due till later.  That will just make a giant mess and will hurt a lot of people for all the reasons listed in previous posts. What they should do is 1)cancel rent completely for unemployed 2)work with the landlords so their bills are paid (utilities, etc) 3)work with any banks that have loans on these properties so the interest is paid. That way nobody gets hurt and once the virus is under control, we go back to where we were. But that is probably too difficult for the people we elect to comprehend.

    • CAM December 16, 2020 (8:44 pm)

      Or we could do what should have been done eons ago and pass federal legislation that offers realistic support to employers that had to shut down (completely or partially) to keep their employees on the payroll and insured no matter what so that this whole mess about unemployment and half measures to stop people from losing everything vs. losing their lives (or potentially both) didn’t have to happen. 

  • bill December 16, 2020 (10:39 pm)

    Yeah, tell me about the suspension of the 72-hour parking rule. A run-down car has not moved from in front of my house for four months. Its license tabs are two months expired. I’ve reported it. The case is simply marked “closed.” My only hope for it being removed is if my neighbor’s tree falls on it in tonight’s windstorm.

    • Graciano December 17, 2020 (4:37 am)

      @Bill…well, did the tree fall? :>)

  • Small Landlord December 17, 2020 (9:51 am)

    We had to lower rent slightly to fill a new vacancy. Anyone else seeing drops? How much? Happy to let previous renter out of lease early, no penalties, and avoided any defaults, no damaged credit, no collections, no courts. Yes, investments are supposed to be risky, that’s why there is opportunity for profit. You wouldn’t think investment=risk given the way the stock market has been propped up lately… but that’s the theory of a free market at least.

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