Eviction moratorium in Seattle to expire at the end of February

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced on Friday morning that the city’s eviction moratorium will expire at the end of the month. 

"With COVID cases steadily declining, the time has come for the City to move on from the broad approach of the eviction moratoria and instead drive more deliberate and focused efforts to support those most in need," Harrell said. 

An executive order will be issued extending the residential eviction moratorium from February 14 through February 28, after which the moratorium will not be renewed, the city said in a news release. 

The city also said all tenants who demonstrate that they are going through financial hardship will receive continued eviction protections for at least six months after the end of the moratorium.

"In addition to the distribution of all available emergency rental assistance, truly vulnerable tenants – those still suffering significant pandemic-related financial hardships – will continue to have enhanced eviction protections, while at the same time small landlords have needed clarity as they evaluate how to move forward," Harrell said. 

Seattle residents facing eviction are also afforded a right to legal counsel and additional eviction protections based on time of year. Landlords will be able to move forward with evictions proceedings for other purposes, such as those listed in the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance, according to the city. 

Harrell has directed the Office of Housing to distribute over $25 million in funding to support renters and small landlords. 

"As we work together toward to a new normal, we know we’re not yet out of the woods of this pandemic," said Harrell. "The City of Seattle will continue to take action to support those most in need – striving to protect the health and well-being of our residents, prevent homelessness and undue financial hardship, and build One Seattle with abundant opportunity for all and thriving, vibrant, connected communities." 

There's mixed reaction to the latest update on the eviction moratorium among tenant advocates and landlords.

"It does provide us hope that we’re going to be able to address some of the issues we have not been able to address so far," said landlord-tenant attorney Ryan Weatherstone. "It allows landlords to see the light at the end of the tunnel. They may be able to start eventually collecting on rent, or they may be able to go ahead and move on from the tenancy and find a tenant who is going to pay the rent."

"I personally feel like I have been treated like a free, uncompensated homeless shelter by the city," said Ayda, a small landlord. "Once you get a full picture of all the hurdles that are put in front of a landlord to actually gain possession Of their property and to actually have justice served, it is actually very challenging."

Ayda said her tenant owes her more than $45,000 in back rent and utilities. She believes the earliest she may be able to serve an eviction notice won't be for at least another six months.

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