Statewide Eviction Moratorium Extended
Posted Jun 4, 2020
By Washington State Business and Real Estate Law, and Litgation Lawyer Andrew M. McKenzie
On June 2, 2020, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee issued Proclamation 20-19.2, which extends the statewide moratorium on evictions until August 1, 2020. My colleague Todd Cook previously posted about the original moratorium and April modification to it here: https://beresfordlaw.com/governor-inslee-expands-scope-of-eviction-moratorium-and-extends-moratorium-until-june-4-2020/. This latest extension continues most of the same prohibitions as existed previously. The moratorium prohibits nearly all residential eviction activity by landlords, property owners, and property managers, including evictions for reasons that are not rent-related. The pre-court procedures the landlord would ordinarily follow to gear up for an eviction action in court (known as an unlawful detainer action) are unavailable unless an exception applies. Previously, the only exception was where the landlord, property owner, or property manager “attaches an affidavit attesting that the action is necessary to respond to a significant and immediate risk to the health, safety, or property of others created by the resident. Proclamation 20-19.2 adds a new exception where the landlord, property owner, or property manager “provides at least 60 days’ written notice of intent to (i) personally occupy the premises as a primary residence, or (ii) sell the property.” Even landlords who already have an eviction order are still prohibited from enforcing it unless one of those exceptions applies.
In addition to prohibitions on evictions, the existing and now extended moratorium restrict collection activity to situations where the landlord, property owner, or property manager, “demonstrates by a preponderance of the evidence to a court that the resident was offered, and refused or failed to comply with, a re-payment plan that was reasonable based on the individual financial, health, and other circumstances of that resident.” Proclamation 20-19.2 clarifies that the landlord’s “failure to provide a reasonable re-payment plan shall be a defense to any lawsuit or other attempts to collect.”
Although the moratorium generally prohibits rent increases, Proclamation 20-19.2 creates a new exception for commercial leases which were executed prior to February 29, 2020 and which provided for scheduled rent increases.
Proclamation 20-19.2 adds a new anti-retaliation provision, prohibiting landlords, property owners, and property managers from retaliating against individuals for invoking their rights under the moratorium or any other state or federal laws providing rights or protections for residential dwellings. However, this prohibition does not prevent landlords from communicating with tenants to explore re-payment plans.
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