A final extension of the Washington state utility moratorium was announced last week, meaning the ban on shut-offs will expire on Sept. 30.
A press release from Gov. Jay Inslee’s office stated this will be the final extension of the moratorium, and will align with the final date of the moratorium on evictions. The press release said it’s designed to give Washingtonians struggling with housing payments time to seek assistance.
The state is encouraging utility companies to make good faith efforts to reach customers with past-due accounts and partner with community organizations, and provide information on assistance options. It is also encouraging them to help customers find financial assistance programs from government agencies they can use.
Inslee is also asking companies to offer extended payment plans of 12 months or longer, waive disconnection and other fees, and refrain from reporting overdue accounts to credit bureaus or placing liens on customers with overdue accounts for at least 180 days.
However, the press release did not say these were being required of utility companies.
Inslee also announced an extension on a moratorium on evictions until Sept. 30 as well. This moratorium was announced on June 24.
“As we all know, COVID has had a significant economic impact on our state and a lot of Washingtonians are still experiencing financial hardships. That is why I put an eviction moratorium in place last year,” Inslee said during a press conference. “These are all reasonable steps and will help ensure that renters and landlords have the opportunity to receive support and resources that are available to them.”
The new extension is meant to serve as a bridge, and is not the same as previous moratorium orders issued by Inslee. Inslee issued his first halt on evictions in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic started up.
A press release from the Governor’s office states the following:
For past rent due from Feb. 29, 2020 through July 31, 2021, landlords are prohibited from evicting a tenant until there is an operational rental assistance program and eviction resolution program in place in their county. Additionally, landlords are prohibited from treating past unpaid rent or other charges as an enforceable debt until the landlord and tenant have been provided with an opportunity to resolve nonpayment through an eviction resolution pilot program.
Beginning August 1, renters are expected to pay full rent, reduced rent negotiated with landlord, or actively seek rental assistance funding. Landlords may only evict a tenant if none of those actions are being taken but must offer the tenant a reasonable re-payment plan before beginning the eviction process. Tenants must also be provided, in writing, the services and support available.
Hotels and motels, Airbnbs, long-term care facilities and other non-traditional housing are exempt from the order.