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Some small businesses and residential renters to get relief

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One anxiety that is top of mind right now is the ability to pay rent for businesses that have seen a dramatic drop in revenue as a result of official social distancing measures because of the coronavirus. There is further concern regarding what will happen to employees and business owners who are unable to pay rent for months into the future. As a result, immediate relief has been announced by local and state executives through official proclamations..

Seattle:  On March 17, 2020, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan declared a moratorium on small business tenant evictions following an earlier moratorium on residential evictions.

At the time of writing, this order lasts for 60 days, however it can be extended to the end of the city’s emergency as determined by the mayor.  The order defines a small business as any operation with 50 or fewer employees per establishment or premises, including sole proprietorships. The order includes evictions associated with default of rent payments and lease expirations. It states:

The moratorium  states, “Effective immediately, a moratorium on small business and nonprofit tenant evictions for non-payment of rent or due to the expiration of the lease’s term are hereby ordered until the earlier of the termination of the civil emergency declared in the Proclamation of Civil Emergency dated March 3, 2020, or 60 days from the effective date of this Emergency Order. The decision to extend the moratorium shall be evaluated and determined by the mayor based on public health necessity;”

The moratorium encourages businesses to still pay what they are able on their rent and encourages landlords to work out payment plans with tenants should they fall short. The official document on the moratorium of commercial evictions in Seattle can be found here.

In an official statement Durkan said:

“For our small businesses and workers: I know you’re hurting. This has been an unprecedented time for our city, and it’s our most vulnerable communities that are disproportionally impacted.”

Earlier, Durkan issued a moratorium on residential evictions to protect the economic concerns of employees as well.

The official document on the moratorium of residential evictions can be found here.

Washington state: In a press conference on March 18, 2020, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a statewide moratorium on evictions of residential tenants for 30 days.  This announcement was made in conjunction with several other measures designed to help small businesses and displaced employees.

Update: On April 16, 2020, Gov. Jay Inslee extended this order through June 4, 2020.

Under Inslee’s order, law enforcement may not enforce eviction orders based solely on non-payment of rent. 

Inslee’s order did not include a statewide order on commercial tenant evictions. However, it did include flexibility on statewide tax collections and utility payments along with small business grants.

Resources for information can be found at the following links:

Housing Justice Project – King County Bar

Resources – King County Tenants Union

King County Sheriff’s Office Will Not Execute Court Ordered Evictions

Judge Rodgers Eviction Letter