SEATTLE — Seattle landlord Carl Haglund said more tenants than ever are skipping rent and he claims pandemic-era protections are to blame.
“The challenge is during this COVID moratorium, the city has passed new legislation which makes it more onerous or more difficult for us to successfully evict the tenants and it’s made it extremely expensive,” said Haglund.
As an example, Haglund pointed to one tenant in particular, who KING 5 is not naming, who allegedly hasn't cleaned up after his pets in months. The tenant is also behind on payments, according to Haglund. The landlord claimed that as many as 10% of his hundreds of tenants are past due on rent.
“He hasn’t paid rent in 18 months and he owes us over $25,000 and we can’t do anything about that,” said Haglund.
An executive order issued by Mayor Jenny Durkan put a pause on evictions in Seattle until at least the end of September. Under the order, tenants can be evicted if there is an "imminent threat to health and safety," but city officials said in the case of Haglund's tenant, a judge will have to decide if it reaches that threshold.
“Ultimately, it would be up to the courts to determine whether the situation that Mr. Haglund describes rises to that level," said Bryan Stevens, the director of media relations and permit coordination with the city of Seattle.
Leaders with the Seattle nonprofit Solid Ground work to keep people in their homes and said landlords will get paid. They pointed to the rising numbers of renters that continue to struggle as a direct result of the pandemic.
“People are doing everything they can to pay rent,” said Will Toaspern, of Solid Ground. “The simple fact of the matter is the rental assistance, those funds from the federal government and the state government, are eventually going to end up in the pockets of landlords,” Toaspern continued.
There have been tens of millions of dollars allocated from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to help cover the debts of renters, but landlords are questioning how quickly they'll see the money.
“We have no recourse there, none whatsoever,” said Haglund.
Durkan has extended the eviction moratorium five times since the start of the pandemic. In addition, the city has announced utilities will not be shut off due to no payment through the end of 2021.