Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has signed a bill that will require landlords to offer payment plans to residential tenants after the coronavirus emergency.
The bill says tenants who fail to pay their rent during the period of the city’s declared emergency and during the six months after the emergency is terminated will have the right to pay their debts in installments.
The City Council passed the bill on May 11. Because it was emergency legislation, it also needed Durkan’s approval. She signed the bill Friday.
The payment-plan bill will add another layer of regulation this year to relationships between landlords and tenants. Seattle and Washington have emergency moratoriums on evictions that are in place and due to expire June 4. Earlier this month, the council and Durkan decided to provide residential tenants with a special defense against rent-related evictions for six months after the city’s moratorium ends.
Under a default schedule in the payment-plan bill, tenants will be allowed to pay their overdue rent in consecutive and equal monthly installments. Up to one month of overdue rent will be paid in three installments; over one month and up to two months of overdue rent will be paid in five installments; and over two months of rent will be paid in six installments.
Tenants will have the ability to propose alternative schedules, though landlords will have the right to accept or reject those proposals.
The bill also will prohibit rent-related late fees and interest from accruing until a year after the termination of Seattle’s coronavirus emergency.
In a statement to the council that accompanied her signature, Durkan said, “I recognize the significant hardship that the loss of rental income creates for our small landlords who are still burdened by mortgages, property taxes, and other expenses.” She said her administration is “working closely with the landlord community” to assess the problem and to come up with solutions.