SPOKANE, Wash. — April rent is due on Wednesday. Some people got their paychecks on Friday, but with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing the economy to a halt, many others did not.
Governments have recently instituted measure after measure to help people get through the crisis, and that has many people asking: Do I still need to pay rent this month?
The answer depends on two things: where you live and how you define "need."
First, let's talk about Idaho because things are pretty straightforward there.
Right now, there are very few protections for renters and no pause on evictions stemming from the coronavirus crisis.
There are a couple of very narrow exceptions in some places in southern Idaho. Tenants in Boise city-owned properties, for instance, are getting some relief.
But for nearly all Idahoans, as things stand, you will still need to pay your rent on Wednesday.
Renters have more flexibility in Washington.
On March 18, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a 30-day moratorium on residential evictions. That means your landlord can't immediately evict you if you don't pay your rent this month.
But the order says nothing about pausing late fees, so you still might rack up additional debt.
Furthermore, unless Inslee renews or modifies the order, there's nothing stopping your landlord from demanding back pay once it expires on April 17.
If you can't pay it, there currently are no statewide protections against them evicting you at that point.
It's also worth noting that the statewide ban is only on evictions for late payment of rent rather than other violations of rental agreements.
In some cities like Seattle and Spokane, there are additional protections.
Spokane's own eviction ban is much broader. It temporarily prevents all evictions for any reason other than immediate threat to people or property.
It also prohibits landlords from charging any late fees that might be otherwise incurred for not paying rent during the crisis period.
But remember: that protection only applies to people within city limits.
If you can afford to pay your April rent, you should pay it.
But, if you live in Washington, you won't lose your home if you don't pay — at least not right away.