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Gov. Inslee replaces eviction moratorium with ‘bridge’ period for renters, landlords

Gov. Jay Inslee. (TVW)

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that rather than extending Washington’s eviction moratorium, he would be establishing a “bridge” period for renters and landlords spanning through September 30.

Biden administration extends nationwide eviction moratorium for 30 days

The bridge means landlords cannot evict tenants for any unpaid rent between Feb. 29, 2020 and July 31, 2021 “until there is an operational rental assistance program and eviction resolution programs in place in their county.”

Earlier on Thursday, the Biden administration announced that it would be extending its nationwide eviction moratorium through July 31.

In Washington, tenants will be expected to resume paying rent in full starting on August 1, provided they have not negotiated reduced rent with landlords. Anyone who is not able to afford payments must be actively seeking rental assistance. Through the end of September, landlords will be permitted to evict tenants after offering a “reasonable repayment plan” if the tenant has not negotiated a reduced rate, and is not seeking financial assistance.

While state lawmakers passed several bills during the last legislative session to establish systems to provide rental aid, those programs have yet to be fully stood up, funded by $650 million in federal relief dollars, and another $500 million from the state Department of Commerce for local governments.

“We’re putting a bridge into place until these funds are actually available and until protections are actually up and running,” Inslee said during a Thursday press conference.

Many landlord groups backed the state’s eviction moratorium when it was initially ordered in March 2020 as the pandemic began, leading to shutdowns and widespread layoffs. That sentiment has changed over a year later.

Why extending eviction moratoriums could actually hurt renters

“We believe, even with no new reform, that the governor has never had the authority to extend the moratorium longer than 30 days without going back to the Legislature for approval,” explained Chester Baldwin with the Washington Business Property Associations, a group that has challenged the order on behalf of property owners. “And you know how we know that? I worked on several other proclamations with the governor’s office, every other one of those, they’ve come back to the industry and had to deal with us and work with us on extending those proclamations because they had to come through the Legislature.”

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced on June 18 that she is extending the city’s eviction moratorium until Sept. 30. On Monday, the Burien City Council announced that it would do the same. Kenmore and Kirkland have also extended eviction moratoriums.

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