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Washington courts launch eviction resolution program as moratoriums near end

Not wanting to be overwhelmed with eviction cases, Washington courts are trying a new method to help resolve issues of non-payment between tenants and landlords.

SEATTLE — A new eviction resolution program aims to explore all avenues before final legal action that can impact people far beyond the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s statewide eviction moratorium expires at the end of the year. Worried about a wave of evictions in the new year, Washington courts are launching an “eviction resolution program” to help.

The program serves as mediation between a tenant facing eviction and landlords. It is specific only to non-payment issues because of the pandemic.

According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, an estimated 172,000 Washington households are behind on rent, and another 28,000 say they would likely be evicted in the next two months.

Here’s how it works: Tenants and landlords meet with resolution specialists who can mediate efforts to create repayment plans, resolve disputes and connect with rental assistance programs.

Landlords are required to participate before they can file rent-related evictions. If a renter chooses not to participate in the program, landlords can proceed with rent-related evictions.

Right now six counties are participating: King, Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane, Thurston and Clark.