(Stock photo)

Rent, utilities moratorium extended

They were extended through Dec. 31.

Moratoriums on evictions and public utilities shutoffs were extended through the end of the year by the Governor.

The extensions are in response the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to sweeping unemployment as businesses have been either closed or forced to reduce the number of customers they serve. The moratorium applies to Washington state residents who have been impacted by the pandemic.

The moratorium on evictions extends the previous one, but loosens some restrictions. It clarifies that tenants can still be evicted for dangerous activity. Law enforcement is similarly prohibited from enforcing evictions without a court finding.

Landlords are allowed to send advance notices of future rent increases in limited circumstances. But any rent increases will not go into effect until the moratorium expires on Dec. 31, 2020.

Landlords are further only allowed to issued a 60-day notice to vacate order if the owner intends to live in the property or sell it. And landlords must sign an affidavit that they actually intend to do so under penalty of perjury.

Utility companies are similarly barred from shutting off energy, water and landline telephones. They must further reconnect any residential customer who has been disconnected for nonpayment and are not allowed to charge late payment fees.

A press release from Inslee’s office said the proclamation states customers still owe their bills, but that customers and utilities should work together to develop payment plans.

The Governor’s announcement comes at the heels of a decision by the Washington state Utility and Transportation Commission. On Oct. 6, the commission decided to extend a shutoff moratorium for investor-owned utilities that supply electricity and natural gas through April 30, 2021. This includes companies like Puget Sound Energy.

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