Inslee ‘Extends’ Eviction Moratorium, Skirts Legal Aspects?
As the eviction moratorium extensions continue in WA state, landlords and property owners are growing tense.
Thursday in Olympia Gov. Ja Inslee announced an 'extension' of the ban on evicting tenants (for nonpayment) one more time.
He's calling it a "bridge proclamation" that will transition the state from the eviction moratorium by Sept. 30. When COVID began, most landlord and property owner groups supported or were in agreement that tenants who had lost work or were furloughed should not be evicted for nonpayment of rent or dues.
However, as the economy as slowly returned, and the ban on evictions has been extended over and over, they are growing frustrated.
The moratorium was supposed to end June 30, the same day the state will allegedly "re-open." Inslee and state officials plan to use some $1 billion dollars available from Federal sources to create what he called stability programs. These include rental assistance and dispute resolution plans which are not yet up and running, but Inslee thinks they can be well before Sept. 30.
These will reportedly ease tenants back into paying rent. Here's what is in this new proclamation:
- A landlord cannot evict a tenant for back rent owed between February 29 2020 and July 31 2021 until there is an occupational rental assistance program and an eviction resolution program up and running in that particular county.
- By August 1 renters will be required to pay full rent, or the amount they have negotiated with their landlord, or seek assistance from this new rental help program. IF the tenant has undertaken any of these three steps, they cannot be evicted.
- Inslee also removed certain types of housing from the eviction ban, including hotels, air b&b's, long-term care facilities and other "non-traditional" housing.
- Landlords will also be required to offer tenants a reasonable repayment program before starting an eviction process, and they will have to provide in writing, information about rental assistance programs available to renters.
According to MyNorthwest.com, it appears Inslee is skirting the legalities of his proclamations by claiming these new provisions don't amount to an extension of an existing requirement.
MyNorthwest.com reports many property owners are not happy with this extension, although it was formally announced Thursday, news had come out two days ago this was going to happen.
A group called Washington Business Property Associations has challenged in court that Inslee never had the authority to extend proclamations longer than 30 days without approval of the Legislature. WBPA officials say they've worked with Inslee's office on several other proclamations, and in every case, state officials had to work with the affected industry because they had to come through the Legislature.
The questions now become, will the state be able to get these new assistance programs running by August 1st, and will a billion dollars be enough to 'take care of' much of the back rent owed to thousands of landlords and property owners across the state? Until then, the eviction moratorium sticks.
Inslee's Facebook page included this statement, showing how his office regards this as a bridge or transition, and not a potentially illegal extension:
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