City Council President M. Lorena González wants to extend Seattle’s moratorium on residential evictions until six months after the city’s coronavirus state of emergency ends, for some tenants.
The city already has an emergency order in place that says many residential tenants can’t be evicted for 60 days or until the emergency is over. The order covers all evictions other than those related to tenant actions that imminently threaten the health or safety of others.
González intends to introduce legislation Monday that would allow tenants to use the pandemic as a defense in eviction court. Landlords would be barred from evicting tenants able to prove a connection between their unpaid or late rent and their coronavirus struggles.
Her legislation would apply to tenants with unpaid or late rent due to a coronavirus-related illness; reduction in income; loss of employment; reduction in work hours; business or office closure; need to miss work to care without compensation for an immediate family member or child; or similar circumstance.
“I have heard from many renters who worry that even after the immediate crisis ends, they will be unable to immediately pay rent,” González said in a news release.
The council president also intends to introduce legislation that would set guidelines for tenant-landlord payment plans in the year after Seattle’s emergency ends.
That legislation would apply to tenants who fall behind on their rent during the emergency and six months after, due to the pandemic. Such tenants would have the right to pay their missing rent in installments over up to a year.
The legislation would cap the installments at one-third the monthly rent, unless agreed to by a tenant. It also would prohibit late fees and interest for six months after the emergency.