Statewide Eviction Moratorium "Bridge" and Federal Suit Update

Posted By: Chester Baldwin 2021 Legislative Session , WBPA News , WBPA Litigation ,

Governor Inslee Tells Housing Providers to Keep Footing the Bill with Latest Eviction Ban “Bridge”, WBPA Makes Arguments in Federal Court

The statewide eviction moratorium was set to expire on June 30, but today Governor Inslee announced the eviction moratorium “bridge” proclamation until eviction systems passed by the legislature are effectively put in place. The bridge is effective July 1 through September 30.

The bridge is not an extension of the existing eviction moratorium, first declared in March 2020. Under the new order, new provisions will support residents and housing providers until resources and programs become available.

  • Past Due Rent – February 29, 2020, to June 30, 2021 – A housing provider is prohibited from evicting a resident until there is an operational rental assistance program and eviction resolution program in place in their county. Additionally, housing providers are prohibited from treating past unpaid rent or other charges as an enforceable debt until the housing provider and resident have been provided with an opportunity to resolve non-payment through an eviction resolution pilot program.
  • Beginning August 1, 2021 - Residents are expected to make full payment or actively seek rental assistance.  If a resident is taking any of these actions the housing provider is unable to evict. If the resident has not been paying – the housing provider must provide a reasonable re-payment plan before beginning the eviction process. Residents must also be provided, in writing, the services and support available.

Hotels and motels, Airbnbs, long-term care facilities and other non-traditional housing are exempt from the order.

According to Governor Inslee, the eviction moratorium bridge will allow for a transition to the resident protections established in SB 5160, including the Eviction Resolution pilot programs and the Right to Counsel program for indigent tenants.

We strongly disagree with this "new" ban. Not only did we advocate for the June 30 end date in SB 5160, but we won. It was passed by both chambers and signed by Governor Inslee. We negotiated for this date in good faith, and the governor is undercutting that work by reneging on the terms of this agreed resolution.

Considerable damage, cost, and loss of property has been inflicted on small housing providers over the year-and-half long eviction moratorium. WBPA took the fight to the Governor last year with two lawsuits seeking to overturn the ban and ensure an order like this never happens again.

 In October 2020, WBPA stood with three small housing providers in Yakima to overturn Governor Inslee’s unfair and unlawful statewide eviction moratorium by filing a federal lawsuit. On July 1, the WBPA continues this fight with oral arguments in federal court. We seek a summary judgement to invalidate the eviction ban.

Property Rights, Not Evictions

This case is not about eviction. Evicting residents is a last resort for housing providers when all other options have failed. The Governor’s months-long statewide eviction ban has given legal cover to residents who can pay but choose not to or engage in criminal and nuisance behavior. The ban has created circumstances where a small number of bad actors force their neighbors to flee unsafe conditions. Housing providers in turn suffer mounting tax and mortgage debts which imperil their properties, livelihoods, and ability to provide housing.

While many businesses have suffered as a result of COVID-19, housing providers are the only ones who were required by the Governor’s eviction moratorium to continue to provide a good or service without compensation. This unjust action is one of the many points the WBPA will argue when it represents small housing providers in federal court.

In addition to its unconstitutionality, the statewide eviction moratorium will only further exacerbate housing costs, because housing providers will be forced to increase rent on those who can pay having lost out on over a year’s worth in payments. Small housing providers are also selling their rentals under the weight of state and local regulations.

We will vigorously advocate for the defeat of the eviction ban during our oral arguments July 1. Click here to learn how you can support WBPA’s legal defense fund to protect your property rights.

About Our Case

Read our filing here. The WBPA is leading the fight to overturn Washington’s eviction ban following grounds: 

  • The moratorium is forcing property owners to provide a service – in this instance, housing – free of charge.
  • There is no mechanism in place that ensures property owners will ever be compensated or provided relief for any unpaid rental income during the duration of the order.
  • Property owners are prohibited from evicting tenants who refuse to pay rent, even if they aren’t suffering any financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Property owners are prohibited from using security deposits to cover damages or unpaid rent for those tenants who decide to leave, virtually ensuring that such losses will be permanent.
  • The moratorium was adopted without statutory authority and extended repeatedly by the Governor without expressed consent and input from the Washington state legislature.