As the federal and state eviction moratoriums expire, there’s good news in Whatcom County for landlords and tenants alike. As KGMI recently reported, the county has chosen to embrace the state’s new Eviction Resolution Pilot Program. To learn more, visit www.whatcomdrc.org/landlord-tenant.
For property owners and property managers, the program promises a solution to unpaid rent that, for many, has accumulated over the course of the pandemic. The program offers some great resources for renters as well, and there’s hope that it will make lives easier for many residents of Whatcom County, and the state of Washington as a whole.
Whatcom County Eviction Resolution for Rental Property
When Washington’s Eviction Resolution Pilot Program was launched in November of 2020, just six counties participated. But on August 20th this year, Whatcom County Superior Court Presiding Judge Rob Olson signed an administrative order to join the program.
That makes Whatcom County one of 28 Washington counties that opted into the program as of September 2nd, 2021.
The program is designed to help landlords and their tenants to resolve cases of unpaid rent. That includes creating payment plans as well as accessing federal and state rental assistance. Notably, access to the program’s services will be free to those who are eligible.
Speaking about the program, Governor Jay Inslee said, “I strongly encourage landlords and tenants to avail themselves of the services offered at existing dispute resolution centers to come to agreement on payment and repayment solutions.”
What the resolution means for landlords
Somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 Whatcom County households owe back rent, according to the Bellingham Herald. The COVID-19 pandemic has created massive challenges for landlords and renters alike, and the Eviction Resolution Pilot Program offers an opportunity for landlords to start claiming the rent that they are owed.
Just as importantly, it provides an avenue to do so that doesn’t involve evictions. As any landlord or property owner will tell you, evicting a tenant is almost never the preferred course of action.
Here in Whatcom County, this program represents a partnership between several agencies and organizations, including the county’s superior court, the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center and several others. The program aims to resolve rent-related issues between landlords and tenants before evictions go to court.
To that end, the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center hopes to provide local resources for landlords and tenants to have an open dialogue and reach a fair resolution. You can learn more about landlord-tenant mediation through the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center here.
Access to eviction resolution
If you are a landlord or property owner who is owed back rent, the Eviction Resolution Program is easy to use, and offers a simple process. Here’s how it works for landlords:
- Step 1: Landlord issues a notice to their local resolution center and to the tenant who owes back rent.
- Step 2: The resolution center will then reach out to the tenant. If the tenant agrees to participate, the resolution center will connect both parties to rental assistance.
- Step 3: The eviction resolution center will mediate between the landlord and tenant to reach an agreement and also connect either party to legal assistance, if needed.
- Step 4: If the process is successful, both parties will move forward with the agreement they have reached.
- Step 5: If the process is not successful, the resolution will issue the landlord a certificate, which the landlord can then use to pursue legal action.
The Eviction Resolution Program is set to run through June, 2023. Once fully operational, landlords will be required to attempt to use this process before going to court for evictions due to unpaid rent.
Check in for future updates as they become available, and contact us to learn more about how a professional rental management company can help your rental business through the uncertain months ahead.