Clear signs are in the air that the COVID-19 pandemic and its dire effects on daily life, in Washington and across the nation, are beginning to ease up. Yet even as the economy begins to rebound, there is still much confusion as to what the future holds for rental property owners and property managers.
For landlords and renters alike, the months ahead may continue to be challenging. Here’s what we know so far about the federal and state eviction moratoriums that directly affect property management in Washington state.
Property Managers: Washington State Eviction Moratorium Extended
Heading into the week that Washington state’s ban on evictions was set to expire on June 30, Governor Jay Inslee’s office made the announcement that a short-term extension was coming. That extension came on June 24 in the form of an eviction moratorium “bridge,” effective July 1 through September 30.
Rather than a straightforward extension of the moratorium, the bridge proclamation—which you can read in full here—acts as just that: a bridge. Its intention is to span the gap between the moratorium’s end date of June 30, and the availability of housing stability programs put in place by the Legislature.
The bridge does not carry on the same rules and regulations that tied landlords’ hands under the previous moratorium; at least not exactly. Instead, it includes new provisions intended to support renters as well as landlords until resources and programs become available.
Landlords remain prohibited from evicting tenants for past-due rent from February 29, 2020 through July 31, 2021, at least until a rental assistance program and eviction resolution program has been put in place for their county. That being said, some changes to the eviction rules under this new proclamation include:
- Starting on August 1, renters must resume paying full rent, unless reduced rent has been negotiated with the landlord or they have actively sought rental assistance funding.
- Landlords must offer the tenant a reasonable repayment plan before beginning the eviction process.
- Landlords must offer the services and support available to tenants in writing before any eviction process can begin.
Federal Eviction Moratorium Still in Place
On the federal side of things, the Supreme Court on June 29 declined to lift the nationwide moratorium on evictions issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By a 5-4 vote, the court decided to allow the moratorium to continue until July 31, when it is set to expire.
The Biden administration has said that it does not intend to extend the federal eviction ban any further once it expires at the end of July. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who cast the deciding vote to leave the moratorium in place until then, noted that his decision was only because the ban is set to expire on July 31.
As NPR reports, Justice Kavanaugh also remarked that “those few weeks will allow for additional and more orderly distribution” of the funds that Congress has appropriated for rental assistance. The upshot of all this is that, barring some unforeseen development, the federal moratorium on evictions will expire as planned on July 31, leaving it up to individual states and cities to make their own decisions closer to home.
We have been in contact with the Whatcom Superior Court and been told that the judges are meeting to get the the eviction resolution program in place. We will continue to keep you updated as the situation progresses, and provide the information that property managers and landlords need to keep their businesses above water in these uncertain times.
Son-Rise Property Management has been serving the property management needs of Bellingham and Whatcom County since 1996. Contact us today to see how we can help you find a rental property for your family or manage your rental properties.