Council President M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide) announced two pieces of legislation today intended to provide relief for residential tenants during the coronavirus crisis.
González is sponsoring the two bills, which appear on today’s introduction & referral calendar:
The first bill, Council Bill 119761, extends protections for residential tenants, complementing Mayor Jenny Durkan’s 30-day residential eviction moratorium. González recognizes some tenants will face financial challenges after the city’s civil emergency ends due to the rippling impacts of the coronavirus.
Her legislation adds a defense to evictions if the tenant cannot pay rent because of the COVID-19 crisis, including a tenant’s illness; loss or reduction of income; loss of employment; reduction in compensated hours of work; business or office closure; a need to miss work to care for an immediate family member or child, where that care is uncompensated; or other similar loss of income due to the civil emergency proclaimed by the Mayor on March 3, 2020. The defense is applicable for unpaid or late rent for a period up to six months after Mayor Durkan declares the conclusion of the civil emergency.
The second bill, Council Bill 119762, allows tenants who cannot pay rent during the COVID-19 emergency to pay late rent on a payment schedule during the crisis. The payment plan must be made in a written agreement with their landlord, and gives the tenant a year to become current on full rent payments after the date Mayor Durkan declares the civil emergency to have ended.
“Tenants and small landlords are struggling in these uncertain economic times; landlords want assurances that they can be made financially whole, while tenants want to remain in their homes,” said González. “The city is and must continue doing everything it can to help businesses, workers and families during this civil emergency. The economic impacts of COVID-19 are already being felt and are likely to continue to be felt after the immediate crisis ends. I have heard from many renters who worry that even after the immediate crisis ends, they will be unable to immediately pay rent. These bills provide additional protections to provide stability for renters and certainty for landlords after the immediate emergency ends. Together, these two bills are complementary to city and statewide eviction moratoriums already in place. Additionally, the legislation puts tools in place now, as individuals and the City wait to understand what financial relief to expect from the state and federal government.”
The first bill allows tenants to use COVID-19 financial distress as their defense during eviction proceedings. The second bill outlines the ‘floor’ of any payment schedule and ensures that the landlord cannot require the tenant to pay more than 1/3 of the monthly rent under this bill unless the tenant agrees.
Council President González will
introduce her two bills on Monday, March 23, 2020 during the
regularly-scheduled Full City Council meeting, which she will chair. The
Council will vote on the two bills at a subsequent Council Meeting.