State appeals court whittles down COVID-era eviction bans

This morning a state Court of Appeals panel updated an earlier ruling; it largely affirmed a lower court ruling that upheld the City of Seattle’s eviction moratorium and required payment plans but found that the city’s ban on landlords collecting interest on unpaid rent was pre-empted by state law. The appeals court further found that the city’s extension of the eviction moratorium for six months after the end of the Mayor’s declared emergency was an unconstitutional violation of procedural due process, because it simply required a tenant to self-certify their financial hardship without providing the landlord an opportunity to challenge that self-certification.

The rejection of self-certification is notable. The City Council, at the urging of Councilmember Sawant, embraced self-certification as an alternative to codifying “means testing” (i.e. providing evidence of a person’s financial condition) into its ordinances. Today’s ruling suggests that self-certification as an alternative to means-testing will face tougher scrutiny in future ordinances.

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