What Happens to Landlord Property Rights When Inslee Relinquishes His Emergency Scepter?

By Cindy Alia

August 20, 2020

It seems the War on Landlords is in full swing nation-wide, and if one listens closely, local rhetoric indicates this is also true in Washington State.


Governor Inslee’s wont for micro-managing all aspects of life in Washington state continues to flourish, as seen with this press release:


In Washington State Governor Inslee has promulgated and amended proclamation 20-19 three times, with the current version, 20-19.3 https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/proclamations/20-19.3%20Coronavirus%20Evictions%20%28tmp%29.pdf?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery  expiring on October 15, which is beyond the 30-day expiration for a proclamation.

The current iteration has become a 7 page document, and of interest are these excerpts which assume property owners have the ability to remain under the status quo for months to come,  as a special session of the legislature has been denied by the governor, and legislation, if sponsored and passed during the next legislative session would not be in effect until after the 2021 session scheduled to convene on Monday, January 11, 2021, and would run for 105 days, with bills becoming law shortly after session.  At best, in the governor’s scenario, a formal law(s) to manage the fall-out of this crisis would be available for owners of rental properties sometime in early June of 2021.

ADDITIONALLY, to inform any future changes to this order in the short-term and the longterm, if an additional extension is necessary, I direct my executive senior policy advisors who have expertise in housing issues to convene an informal workgroup with stakeholders and legislators no later than September 15, 2020. The workgroup will discuss a broad range of issues, including, but not limited to, potentially authorizing rent rate increases.

MOREOVER, as Washington State begins to emerge from the current public health and economic crises, I recognize that courts, tenants, landlords, property owners, and property managers may desire additional direction concerning the specific parameters for reasonable repayment plans related to outstanding rent or fees. This is best addressed by legislation, and I invite the state Legislature to produce legislation as early as possible during their next session to address this issue. I stand ready to partner with our legislators as necessary and appropriate to ensure that the needed framework is passed into law.

One costly solution is gained through the taxation of all in the country, through federal grant dollars.  This pricey band-aid will help tenants, and through them property owners who rent or lease properties.  But this is a targeted and temporary solution to a problem created through proclamations and moratoria and does not address the underlying problems of unemployment and economic stagnation that are resultant of what is commonly termed “Inslee’s shutdown”.  https://www.commerce.wa.gov/news-releases/community-grants/100-million-rental-assistance-headed-to-washington-communities/

In a few states, landlords have banded together to find a solution to the eviction moratorium problem through the courts.  In Washington State, though, citizens eager to protect their rights through the courts have more often than not been bitterly disappointed after time and money have been consumed.  Perhaps this is why such a suit cannot be found in Washington.


August 20, 2020