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Washington landlords and lawmakers discuss rent and evictions during coronavirus crisis

Rent is almost due again in Western Washington, leaving tenants and landlords scrambling to afford rent and mortgage.

SEATTLE — A group of Seattle landlords held a virtual town hall Tuesday. One of the topics was Gov. Jay Inslee's moratorium on evictions in place through June 4. Now elected leaders are calling for more protections to kick in when the moratorium expires.

MariLyn Yim is one of the landlords who took part in the town hall.

"Our renters will be draining their savings. We will be draining our savings," Yim said about the financial strain as the coronavirus crisis continues. "My husband and I are both working people. We have a family that we're raising. We're actually quite a lot like our tenants. I think that it's easy for people to think of the tenants who have a need, obviously, and then large private landlords. It's easy to miss that there's this whole group in the middle of these small mom-and-pop landlords who are part of the community. We've invested in our community."

RELATED: Mom-and-pop landlords also struggling with rent amid Washington's coronavirus crisis

Yim said landlords still have to pay utilities, taxes, and repairs for their properties.

"There's a lot of things that the rent goes to pay for. And so, you know, if one tenant can't pay, we might be able to work something out. If all of my tenants didn't pay, that would cause a huge problem for us in a single month," Yim said.

Burien's Deputy Mayor Krystal Marx is also tallying up financial impacts. 

"We know that there are less protections for our black, brown, indigenous and LGBTQ communities in Burien and all of South King County than there are in Seattle," said Marx.

Marx says she sees people who can't work, make rent, or afford healthcare.

"That is why I am joining with Councilmember Morales, and the other elected officials gathered before you today to call for a June 1 Special Session of the Washington State Legislature," Marx said.

She joined with city representatives from Bellingham, Redmond, Federal Way, Seattle and Spokane on Tuesday. The elected officials want a six-month extension of freezing rent increases, following the end of Inslee's eviction moratorium. 

They want the ban on rent control permanently lifted. They are also calling on Congress to pass the Rent and Mortgage Cancellation bill co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal from Washington's 7th congressional district.

When asked about help for landlords, too, Seattle City Councilmember Tammy Morales said, "What we are doing here as as colleagues from across the state is calling on our Congressional delegation to act on on that level to make sure that mortgage holders are also seeing the kind of relief that we need." 

"We really do need our leaders to step up by providing a larger scale support for tenants. It will ultimately help all of us," said  Yim.

Yim is in favor of rental assistance that would help tenants pay their rent, so landlords are able to pay their mortgage.  

A spokesperson for Inslee's office says he is in regular discussion with the Legislature about the need, if and when, for any Special Session. 

RELATED: Group of Seattle tenants plan rent strike amid coronavirus crisis

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