Support for King County Renters Impacted by COVID-19
King County is experiencing the highest rate of COVID-19 illness in the country and the disease is impacting many elements of daily life. Decisions to cancel or postpone public events or institute building closures are done in the interest of public health, but can lead to tangible impacts on people’s income and employment – particularly those who cannot go to work as a result. Housing providers are committed to supporting residents who are impacted by COVID-19 and need assistance with their housing costs.
We are actively working with the City of Seattle King County and the Legislature to implement emergency rental housing measures, that will open the door for services and rent relief, with minimal administrative delay. In addition, we anticipate over 1 million dollars of state budget money will be appropriated by the end of the week to fund rental support services at the Department of Commerce.
The rental housing industry is recommending a 30-day hold on writs of restitution for King County residents. This hold would prevent physical evictions during the emergency period. Importantly, it would still allow unlawful detainer proceedings to continue but prevent the physical eviction and keep people in their homes. New laws in Washington state make rental assistance funds available to residents only after a court proceeding is initiated. The industry supported these funds and welcomes their use.
A hold on physical evictions that allows court proceedings to continue has the dual benefit of keeping residents in their homes while opening paths to emergency rental assistance funds at the state and local level. The 30-day hold can be renewed each month based on the needs of the community and status of COVID-19 illnesses.
Further Recommendations and Reminders for Housing Providers
In addition to working with local leaders, we are encouraging our members and all housing providers to engage in early and regular outreach to their residents. Communication is key to addressing financial, health, and other hardships that can make it difficult to cover expenses like housing costs. As such, we are sharing the following reminders and recommendations for housing providers:
- Work with your residents on payment plans and agreements and be sure to put them in writing.
- Waive late fees and other administrative costs over the next 30-day period.
- Share the latest COVID-19 recommendations and updates provided by King County Public Health.
- Contact your mortgage lender about temporary mortgage relief and federal mortgage assistance to protect your credit, prevent foreclosure, and ensure your rental property remains available and on the market.
- Contact the Washington State Department of Commerce Landlord Fund Programs to access reimbursements for unpaid rent.
We are committed to solutions that provide immediate relief to residents impacted by COVID-19 that ensure the ongoing availability of rental housing to everyone who needs a home.
There are multiple financial resources available in the industry. For a non-exclusive list of resources, follow this link. We will continue to work with policymakers to identify additional financial resources dedicated to preventing physical evictions during this critical time.