Mayor to issue emergency order blocking evictions for nonprofits and small businesses

Tomorrow morning, Mayor Durkan is expected to sign an emergency order prohibiting the eviction of small businesses and non-profits during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Here’s the details of what the emergency order does:

  • It prohibits the eviction of a small business or nonprofit tenant for non-payment of rent or because an existing lease terminated during the civil emergency period.
  • A “small business” is an independent entity with 50 of fewer employees per establishment or premises. A “nonprofit” is one recognized as such under state and/or federal law.
  • The moratorium on evictions is in force for 60 days or until the termination of the civil emergency, whichever is earlier.
  • The order also prevents small businesses and nonprofits from incurring late fees, interest, or other charges due to late payment of rent during the moratorium.
  • The moratorium may be used as an affirmative defense in court by a tenant facing eviction. If the tenant does not appear in court, the court may use it to grant a continuance of an eviction proceeding until after the moratorium has been lifted.
  • The order also says that landlords “shall endeavor” to create a payment plan or a different arrangement to assist distressed small businesses and nonprofits.

This order will likely find favor with the Council, who tried unsuccessfully yesterday to expand Durkan’s emergency order on residential evictions to include substantially similar terms for commercial tenants; they got caught up in the details of trying to limit it to small businesses and nonprofits. Nevertheless, the Council may still consider modifications to the order before approving it.

In related news, the King County Sheriff’s Office announced today that it would not be serving or enforcing evictions during the COVID emergency; that includes both residential and commercial evictions.

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