The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the associated legislation passed at the state and local level in response, has created an unprecedented situation for landlords and tenants to navigate in 2020.
The Washington state eviction moratorium that started in March was scheduled to expire in mid-October but on Oct. 14, Gov. Jay Inslee once again extended the moratorium, with the new expiration date set for Dec. 31, 2020 as of the time of this writing.
The moratorium prohibits, with limited exceptions, residential evictions and late fees on unpaid rent. It also requires Washington landlords to offer residents a repayment plan on unpaid rent. However, as Inslee’s recent proclamation clarifies, landlords retain the ability to evict tenants based on behavior that is dangerous to the physical safety of other people on the property. If a landlord intends to sell or occupy their rental space, they must give the existing tenant a 60-day notice in the form of a signed affidavit.
In Seattle, Mayor Jenny Durkan in August signed an Executive Order to extend the moratorium on small business, non-profit, and residential evictions until Dec. 31, 2020 as well.
Powell Property Management's Response to the Eviction Moratorium
Amid this turbulent environment, which continues to shift, the onus has fallen on landlords to ensure they are cognizant of and following evolving regulations, both at the state and local level. However, Powell Property Management has removed the majority of the burden from clients of our property management firm. We have made it a point to keep abreast of the changing rules in each city and county we serve as agent to our clientele.
As Washington and Seattle’s moratorium evictions continue getting prolonged, we have taken steps and implemented a variety of measures to help protect both landlords and their tenants and create a sustainable long-term situation for both parties. Here is a look at how the entire Powell Property Management team has responded this year in light of added challenges to the rental industry:
1. Staying Aware of Ever-Changing Rules and Regulations
Perhaps most importantly, Powell Property Management knows the rules and stays abreast of any changes. That includes both statewide regulations, as well as those of individual municipalities, which is critical since there are different rules for different cities within our service area. As a result, we’ve avoided the negative—and potentially expensive—consequences experienced by companies and landlords less familiar with the rules. For example, a California-based property management recently received a heavy fine for trying to evict tenants during Washington’s eviction moratorium that they were not aware of since they are not local. With Powell Property Management, you don’t have to worry about being exposed to litigation, fines and other penalties as a result of rules not being followed to the letter.
2. Constant Communication With Tenants AND Landlords
While we are always committed to clear, transparent two-way communication, we understand it’s more important than ever as families face extreme hardships and landlords try to ensure their real estate investments remain profitable. We are maintaining constant communication with tenants to stay aware of their individual circumstances and needs. We also proactively reach out to them with information and recommendations for potential resources and programs they can access to get assistance with rent. As a result of robust communication, Powell Property Management has experienced a significantly small amount of lease violations.
3. Working with Tenants
When tenants are finding it difficult to make payments on schedule, we diligently examine potential solutions that work for both the tenant and the landlord. In some cases, tenants can make a partial payment by the due date and then fulfill their rent responsibility in the coming weeks. Others require a more nuanced payment plan to stay on track. Whatever the case may be, we take each individual case as it arises and willingly work with the tenant so they don’t lose their housing but landlords still receive compensation to be able to manage and maintain their property. Over the last several months we have sat down with dozens of tenants and worked through their situations to find amiable solutions for all parties involved. Meanwhile, this effort also helps preserve a positive landlord-tenant relationship moving forward to decrease tenant turnover.
4. Keeping Up with Maintenance
Even with the new issues and challenges arising this year, Powell Property Management has stayed on top of maintenance to help sustain the value of our clients’ real estate investments. The last thing landlords need right now is to have their property fall into disrepair. Our team has kept up with both scheduled and emergency maintenance. We are also carefully following state health guidelines and restrictions when carrying out rental maintenance during COVID-19.
Managing Your Property in the South Puget Sound Region
Being a landlord is always a demanding role wrought with various responsibilities, and 2020 has presented a whole new slew of unexpected circumstances and challenges. However, Powell Property Management has continued to monitor what’s happening at the state and local level and respond accordingly to make the best of the situation for both landlords and tenants.
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