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'Really important to hear both sides': Spokane landlords worried about extended eviction moratorium

The rental eviction moratorium has been extended until the end of the year.

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash — Tenant unions all over the state are grateful to Governor Jay Inslee for extending the eviction moratorium, but landlords are concerned about affording their buildings.

The moratorium prevents tenants from being kicked out for not being able to pay rent. However, it also means small landlords still have to pay their mortgages without that additional income. 

The pandemic has caused a financial crisis, and the housing market is being hit hard. The extension goes through the rest of the year, which has eased tenants' fears of getting evicted for failure to pay rent. 

But with tenants breathing a sigh of relief, landlords are having to hold their breath. 

"I know how much of a pain it is to move and how upsetting it could be to not know where you're gonna move to," said independent landlord Will Clark.

He owns about two dozen units. He was supportive of the moratorium back in the spring, but has started to worry about affording his mortgages. 

Most of his tenants are able to pay rent but some can't, he said. He said he is able to be more flexible with payment because he has around 24 units, as long as they work together.

"I really appreciate that if you're a tenant out there and you're struggling, you know, communication with your landlord is critical," he said. "We can figure it out, for me to work something out this month or, you know, spread it out over coming months, we'll do that." 

The Landlord Association of the Inland Northwest said that they are currently working with the tenants union because they have a common goal, which is keeping people in their homes. 

"We've worked together on getting funding," Landlord Association of the Inland Northwest President Steve Corker. 

Credit: Casey Decker
An eviction-related notice posted on an apartment in West Central Spokane just prior to the moratorium.

Financial aid is also a huge issue for both tenants and landlords.

"Every month this goes on it's costing landlords in the neighborhood of $2 million in the metropolitan area here in Spokane," he added. "So if we look at October, November, December, that's another $6 million of aid that we basically need." 

Smaller landlords may not be able to accommodate their tenants, which is why he wants people to try to see from the owners' point of view, Clark added.

"Ultimately, if they're unable to pay rent there, there comes a point where I can no longer afford the house," said Clark. "I'd like to think most have a heart and they're going to work with you and get through this." 

Landlords that are in need of assistance can apply for CARES Act rental assistance. The Spokane Resource Center also has assistance options.

As of right now, Spokane Valley has gone on the funding waitlist, while Spokane still has funding available, according to Corker.