Seattle Halts Evictions of Small Businesses, Nonprofits

March 21, 2020Alerts

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the City of Seattle has declared a moratorium on evictions of small business and nonprofit tenants. Implementing emergency powers under local and state laws, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signed an order to temporarily prohibit landlords from enforcing contract or statutory remedies that would forcefully remove a small business or nonprofit tenant from its premises due to non-payment of rent or an expired lease term.

The moratorium is effective immediately and continues until the earlier of 60 days from the date of the order or the end of the City of Seattle’s declared civil emergency, however, Mayor Durkan may extend the moratorium based on public health necessity. A small business is defined in the Seattle order as any business entity, including sole proprietorships, owned and operated independently from all other businesses, with 50 or fewer employees per an establishment or premises.

The Seattle order does not expressly relieve tenants from rent obligations, instead encouraging landlords to finalize rent relief agreements such as payment plans, discounted rent periods, or similar rent reduction strategies given the economic distress caused by COVID-19. The order does, however, prohibit late fees, interest and related charges because of late rental payments while the moratorium is in effect.

Mayor Durkan has also issued a temporary prohibition on residential evictions in Seattle, which Washington Gov. Jay Inslee followed by ordering a statewide residential eviction moratorium for 30 days.

If you have questions about how the commercial eviction moratorium effects your rights and obligations in your lease, we can help you develop strategies to resolve such landlord and tenant issues.