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Inslee extends freeze on evictions through end of year

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has extended the state’s eviction moratorium through the end of the year.

The moratorium, which Inslee first declared in March in the first weeks of COVID-19 and has extended several times since, would have expired this week.

“We certainly don’t need more housing insecurity in the moment of uncertainty during this pandemic,” Inslee said at a press conference Oct. 8.

The moratorium prohibits residential evictions and late fees on unpaid rent and requires landlords to offer residents a repayment plan on unpaid rent.

With a few exceptions, that is.

The Rental Housing Association of Washington had the following to say.

“Washington is the only West Coast state that doesn’t require a renter to indicate if they are financially impacted by COVID-19 as a justification for not paying rent – which opens the door to some who abuse the system,” said Kyle Woodring, Rental Housing Association of Washington.

“We must direct relief to those who need it and avoid blanket orders that force housing providers to bear all of the burden of providing shelter without covering their costs. Short-sighted policies like this renewed order will continue to jeopardize our already fragile housing system.”

The housing association also said the state must allocate accessible funds for proven rental assistance programs so people in need don’t fall through the cracks, and rental assistance is a proven way to keep people in their homes.

It noted that 91 percent of the rent a tenant pays goes to mortgage holders, financial institutions, taxes, maintenance costs, payroll for staff and utilities. Less than 10 percent goes back to the property owner.

Housing providers, it noted, have seen as much as an 85 percent increase in noise complaints and a 36 percent increase in criminal or violent behavior on the property. Behavior-related issues are causing stress among residents, forcing good tenants from their homes, and allowing bad ones to remain in the property.

A group of Seattle landlords filed a lawsuit in September against the governor and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan over their orders.

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