Welcome to Renting in Seattle! This web site aims to provide comprehensive information and resources on rental regulations in the City of Seattle as well as tips and best practices for successful renting. Whether you are a renter or a housing provider, there is a lot to know.

Currently, due to the impacts of COVID-19, there are temporary orders both statewide and in Seattle which affect rental regulations. Scroll down for more information.  This page is updated regularly. Check out our resource pages for both renters and housing providers and keep up to date on our news and events page.

City Allocates Over $19 Million in COVID-Related Funding to Rental Assistance

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today announced the allocation of more than $19 million in COVID-19 Relief funding to provide housing assistance for low-income households economically impacted by COVID-19. As the City continues to distribute rental assistance in 2020, the City will launch a new effort to provide mortgage counseling and direct assistance to homeowners at risk of foreclosure. These investments build upon established community-based programs aimed at keeping Seattle's most racially diverse residents in their homes.

King County has $41 Million Dollars for Eviction Prevention

King County has launched an eviction prevention program for households financially struggling due to loss of income or illness because of COVID-19. Rent assistance in the amount of $41 million is available for helping residents stay in their homes within King County. 

Interest forms can now be submitted to King County by tenantssmall landlordslarge property landlords and managersmanufactured home park owners and managers, and local nonprofits.

Governor Inslee Extends Eviction Moratorium

The Governor announced on Thursday, July 23, that the statewide eviction moratorium would extend to October 15.  The extension: 

  • Makes minor clarifications to existing restrictions, such as clarifying that law enforcement may serve eviction orders that include findings required by the proclamation; and
  • Creates a workgroup to help inform potential changes to the moratorium in the short-term and the long-term, if needed. The workgroup is specifically asked to consider how future extensions could address options to increase rent. 

COVID-19 Recovery Flyer

Check out our flyer describing the main protections for renters during the COVID-19 recovery period (the 6 months following the end of the state civil emergency) available in 12 languages.

Amharic Chinese (Traditional) Chinese (Simplified) Khmer Korean Lao Oromo Russian Somali Spanish Thai Tigrinya Vietnamese

Governor Inslee Extends Eviction Moratorium

The governor announced by proclamation on June 2, 2020 he was extending the eviction moratorium until August 1 with some amendments as follows: 

  • In addition to situations where an imminent threat to health and safety exists, landlords can evict for:
    • Property damage if it is urgent and unknown to the landlord prior to COVID-19.
    • Intent to occupy and/or intent to sell with 60 days' advance notice. In Seattle, 90 days' advance notice is required for either of these reasons under the existing Just Cause Eviction ordinance.    
  • Tenants can rely on a defense to eviction if the landlord fails to offer a reasonable payment plan.
  • Prohibits retaliation against a tenant for asserting their rights under the governor's proclamation.     
  • Occupancy situations not typically considered 'rental' including but not limited to hotel, motel stays of 14 days or more are included for the purposes of the proclamation.

Rent increases and late fees remain prohibited under the moratorium. The governor first proclaimed a moratorium on evictions in mid-March, then extended and expanded the moratorium in mid-April.  In this latest extension, Governor Inslee acknowledged the 'immeasurable contribution' made by housing providers to the community and strongly encouraged both landlords and tenants to communicate in good faith about rent payments.

Superior Court Issues Emergency Order #18

Unlawful Detainers/Eviction lawsuits

Currently, exceptions to the eviction moratoria (both State and City) are in cases of imminent threat to the health and safety of the landlord and/or other tenants as well as property damage and when the owner intends to sell or occupy the unit.    

If a landlord files to evict a tenant based on an exception, they must first provide:

a.       A declaration under oath detailing the specific facts to justify using the exception

b.       A proposed Order which permits the filing based on the exception

c.       Proof that the tenant has been served a copy of the declaration    

As the eviction moratoria expire, landlords requesting a show cause hearing must provide to the Court:

a.       A declaration showing efforts to mediate with the tenant

b.       Verification that the property is exempt from the federal eviction moratorium under the CARES Act.

Landlords wishing to evict a tenant are strongly recommended to seek legal counsel. 

Seattle's COVID-19 Recovery Tenant Protection Bills

CB 119784 - Non-Payment of Rent       

Non-payment is a defense to eviction for six months following the expiration of the Mayor's eviction moratorium. 

Your tenant must self-certify financial hardship and inability to pay their rent because of COVID-19.    

All 14-day notices to pay or vacate must include the following language:

If you cannot pay rent, during or within 6 months after the end of the Mayor's moratorium on evictions, your inability to pay is a defense to eviction that you may raise in court.    

Failure to include this language is also a defense to eviction and a deficient notice is also subject to rescission if a tenant brings it to our attention.   

No attorney fees are awardable.


CB 119788 - Mandatory Payment Plans

Payment plans are required during and up to 6 months after the City of Seattle's declared civil emergency ends.    

  • If a tenant is 1 month overdue - the payment plan can be as much as 3 consecutive equal monthly payments     
  • If a tenant is 1-2 months overdue - the payment plan can be as much as 5 consecutive equal monthly payments     
  • If a tenant is 2 months + overdue - the payment plan can be as much as 6 consecutive equal monthly payments     
  • Alternatively, you and your tenant can mutually agree in writing on an alternative payment plan schedule      
  • The payment plan becomes part of the rental agreement once agreed upon     
  • You cannot charge late fees/interest on late rent for up to 12 months after civil emergency ends      
  • All 14-day notices must include the following language:
City Law entitles you to pay overdue rent in installments If your landlord does not accept payment according to the installment schedule, you may raise this as a defense to eviction in court.  Failure to include this language and/or refusal to enter, into a payment plan provides a defense to eviction.     
  • No attorney fees are awardable 

CB 119787  Fair Chance Housing and Eviction Records Ordinance 

Landlords cannot take adverse actions against a tenant or a potential tenant based any eviction related records from the start of the COVID-19 related civil emergency (March 3, 2020) and for six months after the declared civil emergency is over.  Seattle Office for Civil Rights is the department that will enforce any violations of this ordinance. There is an exception for imminent threats to health and safety and other situations already exempted from Fair Chance Housing coverage

    • The definition of eviction history is expanded to include eviction court filings, issuance of eviction notices, and any notification of an intent to evict.
    • Landlords must include the following information on all applications for rental properties:
Landlords are prohibited from taking an adverse action against a tenant based on eviction history occurring during or within six months after the end of the civil emergency proclaimed by Mayor Durkan on March 3, 2020.
    • Rebuttable presumption: If a landlord views a tenant's COVID-19 related eviction records and then takes adverse action against that tenant, it is assumed the landlord acted on those records and therefore violated the law. 

Bias Tool

The Seattle Office for Civil Rights recently launched the Seattle Bias Incident Reporting Tool to provide a safe, anonymous space for people who experience or witness hate or bias incidents. A bias incident is any incident that is directed at you because of your race, religion, gender and/or gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, age, creed, and more. We all play a role in creating communities free of hate, bias, and exclusion. If you are made aware of any bias incident or harassment between tenants. If you experience or witness an act of bias, you can use the tool to report it or contact the Seattle Office for Civil Rights' Anti-Bias hotline at (206) 233-7100. If you need to report an emergency or a crime, please dial 911.    

Updated FAQ Flyer for Renters on Eviction Moratorium

Housing providers and service providers please distribute this flyer as widely as possible.

Eviction Moratorium Flyer Amharic  Chinese (Cantonese) Chinese (Mandarin) Khmer Korean Laotian Oromo   Russian Somali Spanish Thai Tigrinya Vietnamese
 

Governor Extends Eviction Moratorium and Adds New Protections for Renters

Governor Inslee issued a new order on April 16, extending the eviction moratorium through June 4, and adding additional protections for renters.  The order also prohibits law enforcement from assisting in any eviction action.  Here is a summary of the additions: 

  • The new order includes additional dwelling situations outside of the Landlord Tenant Act such as transitional housing, leased lots where homeowners live in motor homes, and camping grounds.    
  • Prohibits enforcement of agreements to vacate.       
  • Prohibits landlords from moving tenants to a lesser unit.     
  • Prohibits assessment or threats to assess late fees or other charges for non-payment dating from the state of emergency declaration on February 29, 2020.    
  • Prohibits charging or threatening to charge rent on units that did not become occupied due to COVID-19.      
  • Prohibits charging or threatening to charge rent on units where tenants had to leave because of COVID-19 needs of their own or others.       
  • Prohibits rent increases and increases to security deposits.      
  • Prohibits landlords from pursuing owed rent as debt collection or through any court action unless a landlord can prove the tenant was offered a reasonable payment plan (based on their specific circumstances) and refused or did not comply with the terms. 

Urgent! Amended Temporary Moratorium on Residential Evictions

Mayor Durkan signed an Emergency Order establishing a temporary moratorium on residential evictions on March 16, 2020.  The order states: 

A. Effective immediately, a moratorium on residential evictions is 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;

B. A residential landlord shall not initiate an unlawful detainer action, issue a notice of termination, or otherwise act on any termination notice, including any action or notice related to a rental agreement that has expired or will expire during the effective date of this Emergency Order, unless the unlawful detainer action or action on a termination notice is due to actions by the tenant constituting an imminent threat to the health or safety of neighbors, the landlord, or the tenant's or landlord's household members. Further, no late fees or other charges due to late payment of rent shall accrue during the moratorium; and 

C. It shall be a defense to any eviction action that the eviction of the tenant will occur during the moratorium, unless the eviction action is due to actions by the tenant constituting an imminent threat to the health or safety of neighbors, the landlord, or the tenant's or landlord's household members. For any pending eviction action regardless if the tenant has appeared, a court may grant a continuance for a future court date in order for the matter to be heard at a time after the moratorium is terminated; and

D. Effective immediately, the Sheriff of King County is requested to cease execution of eviction orders during the moratorium.

View Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Statewide Temporary Prohibition on Evictions

On March 18, 2020, Governor Inslee issued a proclamation prohibiting most evictions through April 17, 2020.

King County Superior Court Issues Stay on Residential Evictions 

On March 18 2020, King County Superior Court Presiding Judge Jim Rogers issued Emergency Order #9 effective immediately through March 30, 2020.  The Order suspends hearings, motions and trials on residential eviction cases. 

View the complete Emergency Order.

King County Sheriff Suspends Eviction Enforcement Indefinitely

On March 17, King County Sheriff Mitzi G.Johanknecht indefinitely suspended eviction enforcement of residential renters for non-payment of rent.  The Sheriff's office will only enforce on evictions related to public safety or nuisance issues. 

New! Tenant Protection Laws

The Washington State Legislature passed important renter protections that became effective on July 28, 2019. These include:

  • More notice for rent increases: Under the changes in law, all rent increases now require 60 days’ advance notice.
  • More time for pay or vacate notices:  Landlords must now use a 14 day notice (instead of 3) when rent is late before they can file for eviction.
  • Eviction proceedings: The 14 day notice and the summons and complaint documents have been standardized for simplicity and transparency.  Judges can now exercise discretion to consider extenuating circumstances such as a job loss or hospitalization when making decisions about evicting a tenant.  There are increased opportunities for renters during the eviction process to make payments and reinstate tenancy. 

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