Editor's note: The above video aired on June 24, 2021.
OLYMPIA, Wash. - Tenants in Washington must begin paying rent in full, pay reduced rent negotiated with a landlord or actively seek rental assistance starting Aug. 1 per the state's eviction moratorium bridge.
The federal eviction moratorium expired on July 31 after the Supreme Court prevented the Biden administration from extending it further. Housing advocates fear the end of the moratorium could force millions across the nation into homelessness within the coming weeks.
In Washington state, tenants still have a few protections that prevent landlords from evicting them even if they can't pay rent.
Tenants who have "demonstrably taken action to pay rent," by seeking rental assistance, for example, cannot be evicted for past due rent from Aug. 1 through Sept. 30, according to the bridge proclamation.
If tenants don't take steps to pay rent in full or a lower amount negotiated with a landlord, landlords must offer tenants a "reasonable repayment plan" and offer a written list of services and support to tenants as required by the bridge plan before beginning the eviction process.
Tenants who live in jurisdictions where rental assistance programs are anticipating receiving more resources, where rental assistance programs haven't started or where rental assistance programs are not yet accepting new applications also may not be evicted.
Landlords are still prevented from evicting tenants for rent past due before July 31 or treating past due rent as "enforceable debt" until landlords and tenants have had the opportunity to resolve nonpayment through an eviction resolution program.
The Legislature approved spending $658 million in federal money to extend the state’s rental assistance program. That doesn’t include hundreds of millions of dollars from previous federal relief programs that are being distributed to landlords. The ultimate number of households to be helped is expected to be more than 80,000, said Jaime Smith, spokeswoman for the state Department of Commerce.
The governor also signed a “right to counsel” measure passed by the Legislature that ensures low-income tenants have legal representation when faced with eviction.