Seattle’s Eviction Moratorium to Expire at the End of February

by Emerald Staff 

Mayor Bruce Harrell announced Friday that Seattle’s residential and commercial eviction moratoria will expire at the end of February, ending a reprieve for renters that has been in place since March 2020. 

The moratoria were originally set to expire on Feb. 14, but Harrell said he will issue an executive order extending them an additional two weeks, through Feb. 28. Harrell emphasized in the press release that the extension is final — he will not renew the moratoria after that date. 

“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 in a press statement.

Harrell added that tenants still suffering from “significant pandemic-related financial hardships” will “continue to have enhanced eviction protections.” 

Residential tenants demonstrating enduring financial hardship that prevents them from paying rent will receive continued eviction protections for at least six months following the end of the moratorium. They will also be provided with additional security through a specific legal defense created by city ordinance, according to the press statement. 

Seattle residents facing eviction are also afforded a right to legal counsel and additional eviction protections, depending on the season. The city enacted a winter eviction moratorium for certain tenants that lasts from December to the beginning of March each year in many cases. Landlords will still be able to move forward with eviction proceedings for other purposes, such as those listed in the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance

Harrell says that his latest executive order came after convening a work group of tenant advocates and small landlords who shared their input and experience around impacts of the pandemic and the effects of the eviction moratorium.

During the next two weeks, Harrell plans to review reports created by interdepartmental City teams defined in his previous executive order to evaluate data, improve existing efforts, and seek additional solutions. 

Harrell has directed the Office of Housing to speed up the distribution of more than $25 million in identified funding to support renters and small landlords to complement funding being allocated by King County.

According to the press statement, the City is in the process of developing a website to help connect tenants and small landlords to available financial resources, information on rights and protections, and additional updates as the moratoria end. 

According to the Housing Justice Project (HJP), an arm of the King County Bar Association that provides free legal assistance to people facing eviction, most evictions filed during the state moratorium on evictions between April 2020 and March 2021 occurred in South King County, which was also particularly hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

 Featured image is attributed to Nathan Franke under a Creative Commons 2.0 license.

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