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Renters get reprieve until June, but what happens after that?

SNOHOMISH COUNTY — As May 1 nears, Rob Trickler grows increasingly anxious.
He is unsure if he will be able to collect rent from the seven tenants in the Everett building that he owns.
He is unsure if he will be able to pay his mortgage on the building.
He is unsure when he will be able to have a leaky water heater repaired.
And he is unsure what type of debt arrangement, if necessary, he will be able to negotiate with his private lender.
“My business partner and I have had a lot of ‘what if’ conversations,” Trickler said. “All we can do is what everybody else is doing and hang on.”
An extended moratorium on evictions provides security for Washington tenants until June 4, and a federal foreclosure and eviction moratorium on single-family homes with FHA mortgages is in place through May 17. The federal moratorium was enacted March 18.
After that, housing aid remains murky.
Snohomish County unemployment more than doubled between February and March.
“So many people are really struggling to pay rent right now,” said Olivia Mansker-Stoker of Solid Ground, a nonprofit that provides free tenant counseling. “Resources are so scarce compared to the enormity of the need.”
Twenty-five percent of Americans surveyed by Apartment List could not make their full April housing payment.
Only 41 percent expressed confidence in making rent payments through June under current conditions, and 15 percent said they were “not at all confident” of doing so.
The state eviction ban bars landlords from raising rent, charging fees for non-payment, and assessing rent on housing unable to be occupied because of COVID-19.
It allows landlords to collect for missed payments during the pandemic, but only after they have offered each affected tenant a “reasonable” repayment plan.
Trickler, an attorney who heads Landlord Law Group PLLC and the Washington Landlord Association, called the moratorium “ill-conceived.”
He said landlords could be working with tenants now through standard legal process to reach enforceable repayment agreements.
“There are all kinds of negotiations that could begin to happen,” said Trickler. “We could be getting ahead of the curve.”
March state rental revenue dropped 14 percent from February, and this month Trickler said landlords “are really expecting to get their teeth kicked in.”
David Coombs, a housing and debt relief attorney with Snohomish Legal Services, said things have been quiet at the nonprofit as the legal system has largely shut down.
The real stress will start when the eviction ban is lifted.
“We have a bigger problem coming,” Coombs said. “How are tenants going to pay rent? How are landlords going to be able to afford their mortgages?
“It’s going to require a lot of money from somewhere.”



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