Eviction moratoriums were useful tools to ensure renters stayed housed during the uncertainty of pandemic job losses. While these important emergency measures kept people facing job losses housed, they also caused their own hardship for landlords with their own bills to pay.

But now that the economy is slowly recovering, unemployment claims are falling, relief funds are flowing and new renter protections are in place, state and local leaders should let blanket bans expire.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s first order barring eviction for nonpayment of rent was issued March 18, 2020. He has extended the moratorium several times. Most recently he has declared a “bridge” moratorium barring most evictions through the end of October. In Seattle, Mayor Jenny Durkan has extended eviction protections until Jan. 15.

Nearly 141,000 Washington households were behind on rent last month, according to the most recent Census Pulse Survey. Targeted eviction-protection measures are the right tools to help these renters reach agreements with landlords so they can remain stably housed.

Millions in federal rental assistance funds are being distributed to landlords on behalf of tenants behind on rent payments. In Seattle, where an estimated 60,000 households owe back rent, the city has worked with nonprofit and community partners to distribute more than $15 million in relief payments. Another $6 million is in the pipeline, with an additional $28 million in second-round federal money earmarked for rent relief.

Even in King County, where bureaucratic delays slowed payments until recently, distribution of funds have been steadily increasing. The county released $7.7 million in rental assistance during the last week of September, up from just $2.7 million during the week of Sept. 13. As of Oct. 1, the county had distributed $46.3 million in rental assistance this year.


The county is on track to resolve rent issues for 25,000-35,000 people before year’s end, said Leo Flor, director of King County’s Department of Community and Human Services. Another $177 million in federal funding is expected to fund the county’s rent-relief efforts well into next year.

At the same time, new statewide eviction-prevention programs and protections will help struggling renters long after the public health emergency is over. This month, a dozen counties, including King, Snohomish, Pierce and Spokane, began offering free legal services to low-income tenants facing possible eviction. The pilot programs, approved by state lawmakers last spring, will be complemented by permanent rental-assistance programs and other protections.

Eviction moratoriums bought valuable time while these programs were developed and implemented. But now is the time to let these targeted solutions address ongoing needs.