Governor Inslee Convening Workgroup to Address WBPA Concerns with Moratorium Order

WBPA News,

Last month, the Washington Business Properties Association (WBPA) stood with three small housing providers in Yakima to overturn Governor Inslee’s unfair and unlawful statewide eviction moratorium by filing a federal suit in the Eastern District of Washington.

For months, the order has shifted the burden of renters harmed by the pandemic onto the backs of housing providers – who have done more than their part by covering the housing costs of thousands of tenants with little relief. Adding further insult to injury, because Washington state does not require tenants to verify financial hardship due to the pandemic, the order has put small housing providers in the difficult situation of footing the bill for tenants who simply refuse to pay rent – despite having the income to afford it.

Thanks to the work of housing advocates, WBPA, and plaintiff's efforts, Governor Inslee and his staff have announced that they are convening further stakeholder meetings this week to address our concerns with the moratorium. Namely, the Governor has agreed to bring the WBPA to the table to discuss amendments to the order that would ensure the moratorium’s protections for non-payment of rent apply exclusively to renters who can verify that they are financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

 With 91% of rental payments covering things like the mortgage, taxes, insurance, and repairs, it is vitally important that small housing providers receive rent to pay their bills. While housing providers have had some success in working out payment plans for tenants who have fallen on hard times, many renters are falling behind on their payments – creating unsustainable debt for housing providers. Some tenants have ceased communicating entirely.  This debt, coupled with the lost income from tenants who refuse to pay rent, has forced housing providers like Enrique Jevons of Yakima to pursue bankruptcy or face foreclosure if the order is extended beyond the end of the year.

The Governor’s attempt to amend the moratorium to ensure tenants aren’t cheating the system is a productive first step to ensure individuals like Enrique have a lifeline. The WBPA looks forward to making this amendment become a reality – as well as working with the Governor, Attorney General, and state lawmakers to put forward other solutions that will ensure housing providers aren’t alone in bearing all the societal cost burdens brought on by the pandemic.

Media Coverage of the Federal Suit