New ERP Form enables access to rental assistance in several counties

Posted By: Denise Myers Rental Assistance ,

For tenants who are late paying rent or are in serious rent arrears, housing providers have been unable to take action or prompt tenants to seek rental assistance until the Eviction Resolution Pilot Program and Rental Assistance distribution was available in the county where the property is located. Most counties have now completed the required attestation steps (check status here: rhawa.org/covid-rental-assistance), and now the AG’s office has updated the ERP Notice Form to include resource information for all counties. RHAWA has optimized the form with fillable fields and made it available on our forms page at rhawa.org/rental-forms-leases-notices, also linked under step 2 below. If you have tenants currently in rental arrears, in most cases you should be able to take the following steps to move forward:

Current steps for resolving unpaid rent under WA law

  1. Send written reminder and invoice as soon as rent is late. Do not charge a late fee at this time.*
  2. When it is clear the tenant is not likely to pay rent, check that your county has filed an attestation of readiness. If your county has attested to ERP and Rent Assistance readiness, serve the following notices on the tenant at the same time (this provides access to government rent assistance as needed):
  3. Serve 14-Day Pay Rent or Vacate Notice
    • You cannot take this step unless, when you took step two, the county had implemented both an ERP and a rent assistance program.
    • Do not serve pay or vacate notice in Burien, Kenmore, and Kirkland where moratoriums are extended through 9/30/2021, and in Seattle where moratorium is extended through 1/15/2022.
  4. Participate in the mediation or conciliation process facilitated by the Dispute Resolution Center (DRC) managing the Eviction Resolution Pilot Program (ERPP) for the county where your property is located.
    • The goal of mediation or conciliation is to keep the tenant in the home by reaching a settlement agreement that could include a payment plan schedule, terms for payment of current rent going forward, access to rental assistance, and changes to terms of tenancy. In most cases, conciliation is used, meaning you will not meet directly with the tenant, and the mediator will communicate directly with you and the tenant separately, usually via phone and/or email.
    • If a settlement agreement is reached and both parties continue to meet the terms of the agreement, no further action is taken.
  5. If the housing provider participates in the ERPP process and a settlement agreement is not reached with the tenant, or the tenant fails to meet the terms of the agreement, the mediator will issue a DRC Certification which is required to proceed with an eviction. Work with your attorney or eviction service to move forward from here. 

 * Current COVID emergency orders prohibit the following adverse actions related to past due rent  through 12/31/2021. 

  • Charging late fees or other costs associated with nonpayment of rent.
  • Any adverse actions based on nonpayment of rent.
  • Reporting to prospective landlord on negative rent payment history.

** It is prohibited to proceed with any action (including threat of eviction or use of security deposit) to collect rental arrears accrued from 2/29/2020 to 3/31/2022  without first offering reasonable payment plan to the tenant.

*Citations: