Part of Seattle tenant protection law struck down by court
A Seattle policy to reduce evictions after the city’s eviction moratorium ended has been overturned by the Washington State Court of Appeals.
The Seattle Times reports that an ordinance the City Council passed in May 2020 stated that tenants in arrears with rent and facing eviction could, for six months after the moratorium ended, raise a defense in court if they themselves certified that they had suffered financial difficulties. and couldn’t pay the rent.
City leaders have pointed to the rule as one of the keys to the city’s emergence after a nearly two-year ban on nearly all evictions. As they allowed the eviction moratorium to expire Feb. 28, Mayor Bruce Harrell and Seattle City Council members cited a series of city tenant protections, including the six-month rule, as a way to help vulnerable tenants stay housed as evictions resume.
In a written ruling Monday, the Court of Appeals upheld other city protections, but said the six-month eviction defense “deprives landlords of their interest in property without due process by not giving them the ability to test the veracity of a tenant’s self-certification. financial difficulties. »
The lawsuit also challenged the city’s ban on evictions during the winter months and a law allowing tenants to pay off pandemic debt in installments. Last year, a King County Superior Court judge upheld all but a small portion of the laws. The Court of Appeal upheld this lower court ruling, but added the ruling against the six-month rule.
The Rental Housing Association of Washington, which represents landlords and sued the city over rental regulation, said in a statement, “We are grateful for the court’s decision, which stops the cycle of debt for tenants. housing providers and residents trapped in the COVID-19 eviction ban.
The city attorney’s office did not immediately say whether it plans to seek a review of the case by the state’s highest court.
The Rental Housing Association said it would “continue to review our issues with Seattle’s winter eviction ban.”