The saga of COVID-19 and its effects on landlords and tenants continues. But there is a ray of hope, in the form of the latest extension of Washington’s moratorium on evictions. This latest extension could be good news for property owners and property management companies as well as renters. And it came just in the nick of time.
What Property Management Companies Should Know about Gov. Inslee’s Extended Eviction Moratorium
Washington’s previous ban on evictions was set to expire at midnight on December 31st, just as thousands of renters across the state—many of them still in debt and out of work due to the pandemic—were getting ready to ring in the new year.
Governor Jay Inslee made an announcement barely a week before New Year’s Eve, formally issuing an extension of the eviction moratorium. This latest extension will keep the ban on evictions in place through March 31st.
Said the governor, “I know this moratorium has been critical for many families and individuals as they cope with the impacts of this virus. People need certainty about whether the moratorium will be extended, and it is important that I provide that certainty today.”
Inslee’s extension came a week after Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan issued her own executive order, extending the city’s moratorium on evictions through March.
Help for property owners
Some of the sharpest criticisms of the governor’s efforts have come from landlords and property management companies, who have pointed out that help during the pandemic has been offered generously to renters, while leaving property owners to shoulder the burden.
A group of landlords actually sued state and local governments last September over the detrimental effects of the eviction moratoriums.
But this time there’s hope that Gov. Inslee’s extension will offer greater support for landlords and property owners. Time will tell how effective these new measures will be, but for now it’s comforting to know that the extended eviction moratorium includes these additions:
- State rental assistance programs are expanded to include recently-approved federal funding for rental assistance.
- A path for property owners, property managers and landlords to initiate an application for rental assistance is now provided.
- It is permissible for landlords and property owners to communicate with renters regarding their rental assistance applications.
Tips for landlords during COVID-19
Although this most recent extension of Washington’s eviction moratorium includes some improvements that could make life easier for landlords, these are still challenging times.
Property owners and property management companies remain barred from evicting tenants over unpaid rent. Evictions are only permitted in cases where the tenant poses “a significant and immediate risk to the health, safety, or property of others.”
Here’s what you, as a landlord, can do to continue running your business during the pandemic:
- Stay informed about the latest COVID-19 developments, and get your information from reliable sources like the CDC.
- Maintain open communication with tenants. That includes making an effort to understand their needs, as well as communicating your own.
- Know your legal obligations, including your responsibility to the health and safety of your tenants.
- Work with tenants as much as possible if they cannot pay their full rent, and reach a fair and equitable payment plan.
- Verify what your tenants tell you. As uncomfortable as it may be, you may need to verify that your tenants have been affected by COVID-19.
- Consider working with a rental property management company to streamline rent collection and ease your burden of responsibility.
Contact us today to learn more about how to navigate the murky waters of COVID-19 as a landlord, and talk to our team about how professional property management companies can help.