Since the pandemic struck last year, tens of thousands of people in Western Washington have fallen behind on their rent after losing their jobs or having their hours cut back. Thanks to government moratoriums on evictions, many renters have been able to stay in their homes through the pandemic despite their rental debt. But the last of those moratoriums is due to expire at the end of this month. So what now?
The good news is that renters have rights and several options when facing eviction – far more than before the pandemic. But landlord-tenant law is complicated, and every situation is different. Here’s what the experts at Solid Ground’s Tenant Services want you to know NOW if you’re behind on your rent or worried that you may be at risk of eviction:
1) Stay in your home
Eviction moratoriums in Washington state and Seattle are still in effect until June 30, 2021! Until then, your landlord cannot:
- Evict you for nonpayment of rent
- Give you a rent increase notice
- Add late fees to your ledger
- Send your debt to collections
If your landlord is harassing you, or violating the rules of the moratorium, call a lawyer (see below) or contact the Washington State Office of the Attorney General through its website or by calling 833.660.4877.
2) Apply for rental assistance
Help is available, but you must apply ASAP to get in line. There are two ways to find rental assistance and you should try them both.
- Apply for King County’s Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance Program (EPRAP) online.
- Call 2.1.1 and tell the operator that you’re looking for rental assistance.
3) Access free legal services
You should contact an attorney for legal advice if you get a notice for the Eviction Resolution Program, are harassed by your landlord, or have an eviction filed against you. There are several resources for legal aid:
- Housing Justice Project: Call 206.267.7069 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Eastside Legal Assistance Program: Call 425.747.7274 (English) or 425.620.2778 (Español).
- Tenant Law Center: Call 206.324.6890.
- Northwest Justice Project: Call 2.1.1 and ask for legal aid for housing.
4) Prepare for mediation and a payment plan
Once the moratorium has expired, your landlord is required by law to give you the opportunity to go to mediation and enter into a reasonable repayment plan. Here’s what you need to know:
- Mediation is coordinated through the Dispute Resolution Center of King County.
- The goal of mediation is to create a reasonable repayment plan in order to avoid an eviction.
- You should consult an attorney before mediation AND before signing a payment plan.
5) Learn more and get prepared
This is just a sampling of the information you need to know about your rights and options when the eviction moratorium ends. To learn more, sign up for one of Solid Ground’s FREE How to Prepare for the End of the Eviction Moratorium webinars or call our Tenant Services Message Line at 206.694.6767 on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays from 10:30am–1:30pm.