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RHAWA & Small Housing Providers Appeal Seattle’s Post-Emergency Eviction Ban and Winter Eviction Ban

Advocacy ,

This week, RHAWA filed a notice of appeal in our case challenging Seattle’s Post-Emergency Eviction Ban and Winter Eviction Ban. These are two city ordinances the litigation seeks to overturn. Our case does not challenge Governor Inslee’s COVID emergency order or Mayor Durkan’s COVID emergency order.

Seattle’s post-COVID ban on evictions, coupled with Councilwoman Sawant’s winter eviction ban, puts extreme pressure and responsibility on housing providers to financially support residents. Combined, the two ordinances prevent small housing providers from paying their taxes, mortgages, and maintenance costs when their residents cannot or refuse to pay rent.

Both the state and city eviction bans have recently been extended. The emergency order banning evictions, combined with the post-emergency ban and winter eviction ban, means housing providers will not see relief until well into 2022. 

No other sector of the economy, from grocery stores to school supplies, are required to offer products and services for free. Small housing providers, however, are shouldering all the burden, often without support, during this pandemic.

We are well past kicking the can down the road. The city has rolled a snowball downhill that continues to grow as rental debt piles up for residents and housing providers fall behind on mortgages, maintenance, and utility bills. Neither residents nor housing providers have seen meaningful relief yet.

Since the start of COVID-19, 109 property owners in Washington have been forced to sell or owner occupy their rental property. Compared to September 2020, when there were only seven homes sold or owner occupied in Washington. This increase is a clear indication that housing providers are running out of options and have no choice but to sell.

While the legal obligation to pay rent is preserved as a matter of law, the financial reality for most tenants will be that a majority will never be able to catch up. The longer the moratorium is extended, the more difficult it will be for renters to get out of debt and for housing providers to cover their costs.

We are grateful for the time and attention the trial court paid to this important case and our arguments. We look forward to the opportunity to present our case on appeal.