SEATTLE - After 20 months, Washington State’s eviction moratorium is coming to an end.
The program was put in place to protect renters unable to pay their rent due to financial struggles from the pandemic. With it now ending, people worry that if they owe rent and still can’t pay it, they will wind up on the streets. But the experts say the moratorium ending will benefit both landlords and renters
"Nobody needs to be concerned that they’re going to be evicted," says Jim Henderson, a lobbyist for the Rental Housing Association.
Henderson says there’s been a lot misconceptions around the moratorium, perhaps the biggest that once it ended, many people would wind up on the streets.
"That is the narrative that has been created, however the legislature has created processes that don't allow that to happen." Henderson says in Pierce and Snohomish counties, land lords have already been able to serve residents with a pay or vacate notice aka what most people consider an eviction notice.
"The legislature created this notice and in this notice is a lot of information about resources and where to get help and their rights and how they can access rental assistance.
This year the legislature created an eviction resolution pilot program-which connects residents unable to pay rent with rental assistance-where they can get up to 12 months of back pay and 3 months of future rent covered. Henderson says getting served a pay or vacate notice isn’t supposed to terrify struggling renters-it’s supposed to actually help them.
"The goal is to distribute the rental assistance and to use that money and there is still money out there available for rental assistance so we're not at a place where we're having to pick and choose, we want everybody who owes rent to apply and receive that assistance."
Ultimately, relieving renters of their debt and getting land lords paid. If the resident doesn’t want to utilize the resources, their landlord can take them to court-but as of this year-the court will appoint the renter an attorney.
Henderson says King County land lords haven’t been using pay or vacate notices unlike other counties, but he doesn’t think the number of renters served while be an overwhelming number. He says any renters who need help-and reach out for it, will get it.
Henderson says there are numerous rental assistance programs. Some can be found here. He says each county has their own dispute resolution center than can help renters navigate getting help.
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