Seattle's eviction moratorium ends Monday

After months of heated debate, Seattle’s eviction moratorium is coming to an end. 

Seattle City Council voted against extending the eviction moratorium, a resolution proposed by councilwoman Kshama Sawant’s which sought to keep the moratorium in place while the city’s COVID emergency order remained active. 

Councilmembers voted 5 to 3 against it. 

A decision many landlords, like Ayda, have been waiting for. She hopes this is the first step to recovery and relief. 

"This eviction moratorium was supposed to keep people housed, I was homeless for that period, and I was living on friend's couches," Ayda said. 

A nightmare Ayda has been living since October 2020, after her tenant stopped paying rent, utilities and communicating. 

The landlord says the eviction moratorium was meant to help struggling families. 

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In her case, she kept trying to collect rent, but the bills went unpaid. 

She says she’s glad the city council voted against extending the moratorium. 

"It would just be protecting people who are not suffering from financial difficulty or people who are gaming the system like my tenant," Ayda said. 

The Washington Multifamily Housing Association’s Director of Government Affairs, Brett Waller says there’s no need for a moratorium anymore as children have returned to school, vaccines have available and there’s a desire to get the economy back up and running again. 

He assures there’s not and won’t be a tsunami of evictions as landlords try to recover. 

"Renters are just like customers, if you have no customers, then you have no income for your business and it just doesn't make sense that a housing provider would get rid of all of their customers," Waller explained. 

Ayda is one of the thousands of mom-and-pop landlords owed more than $50,000 in back rent. 

While the moratorium is ending -- there are still legal steps landlords have to take, according to Landlord/Tennant Attorney Ryan Weatherstone. 

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Weatherstone says landlords must offer renters a repayment plan which can’t be more than 1/3 of the monthly rent. 

"If a tenant has not paid in 20 months, they are entitled to a repayment plan of about 60 months in order to repay back the entire amount that is owed," Weatherstone said. 

He says come March 1st Landlords can start mailing notices, but it’ll still be a lengthy process to get someone evicted. 

His concern – losing housing stock. 

"Rents are going to go up because there's going to be more competition for smaller amount units, screening requirements are going to go up," Weatherstone said. 

A situation already happening, the WMFHA says 9,700 rental homes have been unregistered and likely lost in the city’s housing database, and the list keeps growing. 

"I'm going to be pulling my rental from the market and I will not allow a rental again, and if I did, I would greatly increase my standards," Ayda said. 

Ayda says with mom-and-pop landlords pulling their properties it's only decreasing affordable housing, adding to the housing crisis in a city already experiencing homelessness. 

Landlords are calling on city council to think long-term and come up with a plan to create more affordable housing. 

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