Residential landlords have been prohibited from evicting tenants for being behind on their rent since March 18, 2020, except for imminent threat to health and safety, active criminal activity, or if the landlord planned to live in or sell the property. In the meantime, many owners of residential rental properties have been forced to provide free or reduced-rent housing throughout the pandemic with little if any financial relief.
It is estimated nearly 195,000 Washington renters are behind on their rent, with an accumulated rent debt of roughly $1.2 billion total.
Bipartisan legislation was negotiated during the 2021 legislative session to provide equitable rights for rental property owners and tenants. Included in Senate Bill 5160 was $7.5 million in grants for eligible landlords to offset unpaid rent for tenants who are ineligible for other rental assistance and amendments that would have ended the eviction moratorium on June 30 of this year. The original version of the Senate bill would have extended the governor’s eviction moratorium for two years after the pandemic health emergency ends.
In April, Gov. Inslee vetoed the sections that ensured rental assistance was available until tenant protection programs were fully implemented, yet left intact the sections that ended the eviction moratorium on June 30. On June 24, his new emergency order, known as the Tenancy Preservation Bridge, extended the eviction moratorium through September 30.