Seattle Winter Eviction Law

A Seattle law provides a “defense” to eviction in many residential tenancies between December 1 and March 31. The law applies to tenants who are moderate-income and below, as that is statutorily defined.

There are several exceptions. Some of the more important ones include:

  • The winter eviction law does not apply to landlords with fewer than five rental units in Seattle.
  • A landlord may terminate a month-to-month tenancy and evict
    • if the owner or an immediate family member intends to reside in the rental (with 90 days’ notice);
    • if the owner intends to sell a single-family home (with 90 days’ notice);
    • if the owner wishes to discontinue sharing his/her own housing unit.

The landlord can terminate a tenancy and evict the tenant if the tenant creates a nuisance, operates an illegal business, or engages in drug activities.

There are other, less common exceptions to the eviction ban.

The winter eviction law creates a tenant mitigation fund for low-income tenants at risk of residential eviction during the winter eviction ban period. To be eligible 1) non-payment of rent must be one of the reasons for termination, 2) the tenant must be low income,  3) the tenant must show a lack of financial resources, and 4) the tenant must request mitigation funds on or before the day the writ is executed.

Landlords serving a notice to terminate the tenancy for failure to pay rent must include information to the tenant about how to access the tenant mitigation fund. This language is to be adopted by the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections.

The law is expected to go into effect later this year will apply to residential tenancies beginning December 1, 2020.

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