Seattle Adds an Inability-to-Pay Defense to Eviction Protection For Six Months

Seattle Adds an Inability-to-Pay Defense to Eviction Protection For Six Months

In an effort to provide renters with more protection against evictions, the Seattle City Council created an inability-to-pay defense that renters can use in eviction court for six months after the city’s eviction moratorium ends on June 4.

This new legislation provides an additional eviction defense for an additional six months after the City’s eviction moratorium is lifted, according to a release.

Council President M. Lorena González said in the release, “After the immediate health crisis is over, we know the economic ripple effects will be felt for some time. Tenants who have lost their jobs or seen their income significantly dropped during this pandemic need time to find their way back to economic stability.

“This legislation provides tenants recovering from this crisis an additional six months of housing stability through an added defense in eviction proceedings after the city’s eviction moratorium ends. Tenants may use this defense if needed, but this bill does not release renters of their contractual obligations to pay their monthly rent. If you are a tenant who can afford to pay your rent in full, you absolutely should.”

Council Bill 119784 provides Seattle renters eviction protection in several ways.

  1. After the city’s moratorium on residential evictions ends, the legislation provides a defense a tenant may use for six months should a landlord take their tenant to eviction court.
  2. The tenant can use non-payment of rent for any reason as a defense to eviction, as long as they submit a declaration of financial hardship to the court.

Additionally, González introduced a second bill that would more clearly set up payment plans for back rent between tenants and landlords.

Council Bill 119788, which creates payment plans during the COVID-19 crisis and six months afterwards for tenants to use payment plans on a specific installment schedule towards becoming current on overdue rent and meeting their contractual obligations. This legislation was modeled after ‘best practices’ currently used by landlords and tenants.

“The goal of these two pieces of legislation is to create more breathing room and flexibility for tenants as thousands wait for unemployment insurance as well as cash and/or rental assistance,” González said in the release.

“It is my hope that we can continue to invest in programs like Home Base at the City and I will continue to advocate for tenants, homeowners, and small landlords with partners in state and federal government in COVID-19 relief packages for more rental assistance and mortgage relief.  My office has heard from many constituents impacted by this crisis, and while we know that relief is on the way, we need additional tools to keep people housed and not further exacerbate the homelessness and affordable housing shortage crisis in Seattle.”

Seattle Mayor Signs Emergency Order Placing Moratorium on Evictions

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