SEATTLE (September 21, 2021) – As federal funds for rental assistance continue to be distributed, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced today that she is extending the moratoriums for residential and commercial evictions through January 15, 2022 through Executive Order 2021-07. The order will also modify additional COVID-related relief measures related to utility assistance. This marks the sixth extension of the eviction moratorium as part of the COVID-19 civil emergency since March 14, 2020, when Seattle declared one of the first eviction moratoriums in the country. As reported by SCC Insight, Magistrate Judge Richard Creatura found the city and state eviction moratoriums to be constitutional in a recommendation on September 15, 2021, to Judge Richard Jones.
“We led the way as the first major US city to be impacted by COVID-19. Every step of this pandemic, our residents and community listen to science and public health officials, which is why we have the lowest cases, hospitalizations, and deaths of every major city. Seattle continues to show the nation how to protect small businesses and residents by establishing and continuing one of the first in the nation moratoriums on evictions to keep families safe. Our early actions have and continue to keep people safe and housed,” said Mayor Durkan. “While we face the unexpected rise of the Delta variant, this next extension will ensure every level of government can provide rental assistance and housing support to tenants and landlords, which is critical to stabilizing the community as we reopen and recover.”
As reported by the Seattle Times, 60,000 Seattle area renters are behind on rent. The City has distributed more than $15 million of the first allocation of the American Rescue Plan rent relief to tenants and landlords since June including 100% of funds to United Way King County and income-restricted affordable housing. The remaining $6 million of this first allocation has already been obligated to community-based organizations that are targeting rental assistance to BIPOC communities that may be left behind by other rental assistance programs. An additional $28 million of federal funds was approved in August and the City is already distributing these funds including to United Way King County. There are additional county and state resources that are also being distributed.
The executive order continues tenant protections prohibiting landlords from issuing notices of termination or otherwise initiating eviction actions with the courts unless there is an imminent threat to the health and safety of the community. Late fees, interest, or other charges due to late payment of rent during the moratorium are not allowed. However, tenants are still legally obligated to pay rent during the moratorium, and landlords are encouraged to offer flexible payment plans. Residential tenants who receive an eviction notice during the moratorium should contact the Renting in Seattle hotline at 206‐684‐5700.
The moratorium on eviction of nonprofit and small business commercial tenant applies to independently-owned businesses with 50 employees or fewer per establishment, state nonprofits, and 501(c)3) nonprofits. The extension also prevents eligible small businesses and nonprofits from incurring late fees, interest, or other charges due to late payment during the moratorium. For additional questions please see the Office of Economic Development’s COVID-19 Lease Amendment Tool Kit.
Currently, upon expiration, Ordinance 126075 will take effect, providing additional tenant protections including the start of a six-month period in which a renter may claim a defense against eviction for non-payment of rent if they can demonstrate financial hardship due to COVID-19. This timeline protects tenants from evictions for non/late payments through mid-June 2022.
The executive order also extends certain suspensions put in place to limit the economic impact of the pandemic on Seattle residents and small businesses. The Utility Discount Program’s Self-Certification Pilot Program, as announced in Executive Order 2020-03, will be extended through October 31, 2021. Mayor Durkan has also directed utilities to refrain from shutting off service to customers through January 15, 2022. Temporary parking zones for hospital and human services staff, as announced on March 26, 2020, will be resumed and be extended through January 15, 2022. The City continues to assess when to lift these individual suspensions as it relates to the COVID-19 emergency.
In addition to the moratoria extension, the executive order ends dates for rent deferral policies for tenants of City Finance and Administrative Services facilities for December 31, 2021, for both businesses and nonprofits.