Seattle landlords sue to overturn eviction bans

VIDEO: Landlords sue to overturn eviction moratorium

SEATTLE — Landlords are suing over the tight restrictions in the Seattle and state of Washington eviction bans.

Their suit claims, “... the blanket eviction ban puts landlords at the mercy of tenants who do not pay rent or violate other lease terms, whether they face financial hardship or not.”

“So the U.S. Constitution says among other things that states can’t impair the obligations of contract,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney Ethan Blevins of the Pacific Legal Foundation.

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One plaintiff said they can’t even evict tenants after their lease has expired.

“Our clients want to actually repossess that property for their own purposes and occupy it, but they can’t because of the eviction ban in place,” Blevins said.

Many people who were once able to pay rent are now out of work because of the pandemic.

According to Dinah Braccio, an advocate with the Washington Tenants Union, “I mean, it just ranges so wildly, like a lot of people who have lost income and are either not able to pay full rent or not able to pay rent at all.”

Braccio predicts a catastrophe if the eviction bans are overturned, “To put it bluntly, a lot of people who don’t have a lot of options will probably become homeless.”

But in their lawsuit, the landlords stated, “... the eviction bans lay the burden of emergency housing costs at the feet of private landlords to avoid imposing the true cost on the public.”

“I think that we need solutions that don’t target certain businesses or individuals to carry the burden,” Blevins said.

Tenant advocates estimate renters owed $300 million in back rent in July — but there were only $100 million in state rental assistance.

“The governor needs to work to cancel this rent debt for tenants and cancel the mortgages of like landlords, um, and put the loss where it should be situation, which is the lenders and the banks are most capable of, like, absorbing this impact,” Braccio said.

Blevins said the federal eviction ban announced by President Donald Trump is not as much of a problem because it requires renters to prove they have a financial need to defer rent.