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City Council Passes Strauss Legislation Strengthening Protections for Tenants in Aftermath of COVID-19

SEATTLE – Councilmember Dan Strauss (District 6 – Northwest Seattle) celebrated the City Council’s 7-1 vote today to pass legislation on Tuesday strengthening protections for tenants who owe unpaid rent from the COVID-19 pandemic. Council Bill 120305 would require that landlords offer tenants a reasonable amount of time to repay debts incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

In May 2020 the City Council adopted Ordinance 126081, which established a similar repayment plan requirement, allowing tenants who accumulate unpaid rent during the civil emergency to repay rent over the course of three to six months. Rather than limiting tenants to six months to repay debts accumulated over two years, Council Bill 120305 defines a reasonable repayment plan as one in which debts can be repaid in monthly installments, with no monthly installment exceeding one-third of the tenant’s monthly rent. This repayment plan will apply to any rental debts incurred during the City of Seattle’s ongoing COVID-19 civil emergency, or within six-months after the end of the civil emergency. 

“Today’s vote means that tenants who are still recovering from the economic shock of COVID-19 have a predictable, reasonable way to repay any rental debt they have accrued,” said Councilmember Strauss. “The initial repayment plan requirement we adopted was based on a two-month pandemic – this law updates our protections to reflect a two-plus year pandemic. These changes will reduce confusion about the protections that exist and will allow landlords to be made whole while reducing evictions.” 

Council Bill 120305’s redefined timeframe for repayment brings the City’s protections into alignment with state requirements. RCW 59.18.630 establishes a similar requirement at the state-level for tenants to be given a reasonable repayment plan for rental debts accumulated during the state civil emergency. 

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