You may have heard that the eviction moratorium is coming to an end. Understandably, this may make those who are behind on rent payments feel concerned they will be evicted. Fortunately, Washington State has put into place a number of steps landlords must follow before proceeding with an eviction.
Please read below to get a better idea of the process, and know what your responsibility is as a tenant, under this law, to avoid eviction.
Watch a short informative video below to see how the eviction bridge works – or you can scroll below to read a summary of that information!
BEFORE A TENANT MAY BE EVICTED:
Landlords must comply with a few steps before they can legally evict a tenant:
FIRST, landlords must serve a 14-day notice, which the tenant must respond to, or the landlord can proceed with the eviction process. When the tenant responds to the landlord, it stops the eviction clock while the they go through the process.
SECOND, the landlord cannot evict the tenant if the tenant complies with the legal steps, meaning they 1) Respond to the landlord’s 14-day notice, 2) They agree to go through mediation, and 3) They comply with a reasonable payment plan that is initiated by the landlord.
What does a reasonable payment plan mean? It means tenants may be expected to pay their monthly rent AND more than 1/3 of their monthly rental charges to make payments on back rent.
What is mediation? Mediation is an alternative to litigation in court that uses a neutral third party (the mediator) who helps each party discuss and resolve the dispute.
HOW TENANTS CAN AVOID EVICTION:
WORK WITH YOUR LANDLORD and be responsive as they go through the required legal steps to seek eviction.
ACCEPT THE MEDIATION OFFERED by your landlord within the 14-day notice period by informing your landlords you intend to use mediation. Not only does going through mediation help prevent your eviction, but it also gets you looped in to community rental assistance resources.
ABIDE BY YOUR PAYMENT PLAN, as defaulting on the payment plan can grant your landlord the legal right to evict you.
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT PAST RENT:
LANDLORDS CANNOT CHARGE LATE FEES for unpaid rent from March 1, 2020 until six months past the moratorium.
LANDLORDS CANNOT REPORT UNPAID RENT to a prospective landlord for any past-due rent between March 1, 2020 until six months past the moratorium.
YOU MAY NOT BE DENIED HOUSING FOR UNPAID RENT that occurred between March 1, 2020 to six months past the moratorium.
YOUR RIGHTS AS A TENANT:
IF YOU GO THROUGH MEDIATION, SNAP partners with dispute resolution centers and:
- Can confirm application status to landlords on the tenant’s behalf (by request of landlord or mediation center).
- By request, SNAP can also prioritize rental assistance applications for tenants going through mediation.
- If the tenant has not applied for rental assistance yet, SNAP will help them apply.
- LOW-INCOME RENTERS HAVE A RIGHT TO LEGAL COUNSEL, which they may access from volunteer lawyers who make themselves available to Spokane County residents who face eviction. The tenant must request counsel from the lawyers. You can find more information HERE.
The information listed above is only a brief summary of the details included in Bill 5160, which allows tenants with flexibility before they are evicted after the moratorium ends. We recommend reading additional information about the eviction process to ensure you are following all steps required as a tenant.
If you have questions or want to learn more, JOIN the live Tenants Information Session and Q&A with NW Mediation, offered bi-weekly, 12-1pm.
CLICK HERE to read the full version of Bill 5160
CLICK HERE to read a summary of this bill provided by the Washington State Multifamily Housing Association
CLICK HERE for a flow chart the helps show the steps required to seek eviction
CLICK HERE if you are interested in learning more about rental assistance.
Click HERE to request services from the Volunteer Lawyer’s Program.