Washington tenants will have more time to catch up on rent payments without fear of being evicted.
On Thursday (June 24), Gov. Jay Inslee announced an order that protects renters after the state’s eviction moratorium expires June 30.
Starting Aug. 1, landlords can evict tenants who refuse to seek help from a rental relief program or a repayment plan, under the new proclamation, which runs through September.
“I’m proud of the things we’ve done to protect families from homelessness during the COVID pandemic,” Inslee said during a news conference. “This extension is a bridge that will support both tenants and landlords during this transitional period.”
This week’s announcement comes after housing advocates across the state asked the governor for more time to get rental assistance programs up and running, as well as for existing ones to work through a backlog of tenants needing help.
Relief dollars were not expected to reach many landlords before the eviction moratorium expired.
“The money is there, it’s just the process,” Inslee said. “There’s no shortage of cash in the drawer. We just need the functioning grant-making process, the application process and the clearance process to get these grants out the door.”
Earlier this year, the Legislature earmarked $500 million for rental assistance. Another $650 million from the federal government should be available in July.
Though the total amount of past-due rent during the pandemic could be as high as $1.2 billion — averaging about $110 million each month, officials said.
So far, only six counties, including King County, have implemented the state’s Eviction Resolution Pilot Program, which aims to settle disputes between landlords and tenants, while also helping renters find relief.
“We need local leaders to carry the ball to start the processes,” Inslee said. “I’m reasonably confident this is going to get done.”
Inslee’s bridge plan also means more time to implement a new right-to-counsel program for indigent tenants.
“These are achievable ends for tenants because there’s multiple ways to prevent eviction here,” Inslee said.