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By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 05 May 2020

SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle City Council has voted to provide residential tenants with a defense against rent-related evictions for six months after the coronavirus emergency moratorium expires.

Seattle has existing coronavirus-emergency moratoriums that prohibit rent-related evictions of residential tenants, nonprofits and certain small businesses. They’re all set to end on June 4, when a similar, statewide moratorium on residential evictions also is scheduled to run out.

The Seattle Times reports that the bill approved unanimously Monday will protect residential tenants for an additional six months by adding a special section to a city law that dictates the circumstances under which evictions can happen.

Mayor Jenny Durkan, who recently extended Seattle’s current moratoriums to June 4, “believes people should be able to stay in place” and intends to sign the measure, spokesman Ernie Apreza said.

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The bill says tenants will have a defense in court when an eviction based on failure to pay rent would force them to vacate within six months of the termination of Seattle’s moratorium. It says a landlord “may not evict a residential tenant” who successfully cites that defense in court.

Tenants will still incur debt during the six-month period. Those using the defense will need to certify that they’ve suffered financial hardship.

During a public comment period before the vote, a number of property owners spoke against the González bill. They said the legislation could encourage unscrupulous renters to withhold rent. They asked the council to instead provide more rental assistance to struggling tenants.

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