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Hundreds of Washington landlords break eviction moratorium

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson says his office is receiving tenant complaints so fast that it's hard to keep up.

SEATTLE — Across the country, nearly a third of people reported not paying their April rent. And though Governor Jay Inslee put a moratorium on evictions in the state of Washington, the attorney general's office says tenants are reporting violations at lightning speed.

'"I just had a lengthy conversation with the head of my civil rights team, and she's saying, 'Look, they're just coming so quickly, it's hard to keep up with them,'" said Bob Ferguson, Washington's attorney general. "We've got a whole team together to grapple with these right now."

As of late Thursday, the office had received nearly 300 complaints. The office had contacted 238 tenants and 121 landlords. 

RELATED: United Way program to provide $5 million in rental assistance to King County residents

The eviction moratorium states clearly that landlords cannot evict tenants nor can they add late penalties during this time, according to Ferguson.

Some examples of landlords violating the moratorium include starting collection proceedings against tenants or adding $50 a day in late penalties. 

"You can't do either," said Ferguson.

Ferguson said he realizes it's a difficult time for landlords, but he added there are programs to help them.

"What landlords need to hear is that we understand that they're struggling, " said Ferguson. "The federal government has taken action to help out landlords, so they're not facing their own foreclosure issues. But, at the same time, they need to follow the governor's proclamation. We're all in it together."

RELATED: Do I have to pay rent in Washington during the coronavirus crisis?

If renters need to file a complaint about an eviction moratorium violation, they can do so here.

Do you have a question or concern about money during the coronavirus pandemic? Email us at money@king5.com.