Every day there's new information from your home state and the federal government during the COVID_19/Coronavirus crisis. Since it's the beginning of the month, we want to explain the current status of rent payments (and mortgage payments) and dispel any misinformation.
1. Do I have to pay rent during Coronavirus? The short answer is yes. This is in every state. Unless your landlord has told you you can skip a month(s), you have to pay your rent. The same is true for your mortgage. Unless you've been granted a forbearance of deferment for your rent or mortgage, or if your landlord has offered rent forgiveness, you must pay.
2. But, what if you can't afford it? Pay what you can. Most states, including Washington and Idaho, have put a moratorium on eviction (renting) and foreclosure (mortgages). That means you can't be removed from your rental home or the house you own during the current shelter-in-place rules if you cannot pay because of the Coronavirus and your finances. It does not mean you cannot get kicked out for rules violations of other varieties. For example, Idaho has made clear that if you are using illegal drugs (including recreational marijuana), you can still be evicted. But, to be as clear as possible, it does not mean that you will not owe the rent or mortgage amounts you did not pay during the COVID_19 crisis. Those payments will be due at some point, and as of right now, there's no clarity if they will all be due immediately upon people being able to return to work and/or a lifting of any shelter-in-place/stay at home orders.
3. So, what should I do? If you can pay your rent or mortgage, pay it. If you can't or don't think you can pay it in full, pay as much as you can, as it may be due later.
4. If there is a rent or mortgage forgiveness order made by your state or the federal government, we will update this post. But, neither Washington nor Idaho nor the federal government have made any rule or law about rent or mortgage forgiveness.
If you have more questions, contact us (for WA & ID). Stay safe!
Due to the extreme measures being put into place to contain the COVID-19/Novel Coronavirus, Courts are not operating as they normally are. If you are an active client, we will update you directly. We'll try to keep updating this list as things change.
Note that just because hearings are delayed or courts are closed, other litigation and case deadlines have not changed at this point. Discovery (written questions and document production, depositions) and related deadlines remind. Statutes of limitation to file a case have not changed. You can still open new cases and file motions.
Idaho Federal Courts (Federal District & Bankruptcy): These courts are almost exclusively electronic (or eFile). Hearings will be telephonic or moved. The Courts have posted limitations to who can enter the physical buildings. If you are sick or have been exposed to someone who is and/or if you have been traveling abroad, you cannot enter the physical courthouses.
Washington Federal Courts (Federal District & Bankruptcy): Like Idaho, these courts are primarily electronic (or eFile). Most hearings are already telephonic, so that will not change. Bankruptcy meetings of creditors may be postponed. If you are sick, do not physically enter the courthouse. No travel restrictions have been posted.
Idaho State Courts: All civil & family law hearings may be held telephonically or postponed based on the Judge's sole discretion. You will be notified by the Court. Hearings for domestic violence, child custody, and other emergencies shall be held telephonically, if possible. Eviction hearings are postponed. Lawyers must eFile and pro se (parties without lawyers) litigants can register to eFile or use special dropboxes. You cannot enter the Court if you are sick or have recently traveled to certain places. These changes are in place until at least April 10, 2020. More info can be found here: https://isc.idaho.gov/files/COVID-19-Order.pdf.
Washington State Courts: Changes vary greatly across the 39 Counties. All counties have asked people who are sick to stay home or reschedule your hearing date. For Spokane County Superior Court specifically, the following changes are in place:
Other Washington County info can be found here: http://www.courts.wa.gov/index.cfm?fa=home.courtClosures
Appellate courts (Washington & Idaho): Divisions 1-3, Supreme Courts, and the 9th Circuit have not changed any deadlines. Oral arguments on motions may be moved or delayed.
We are here to answer your questions and will update this as things change.
It's the time of year again in Washington State. The state legislature passed a number of bills that Gov. Jay Inslee has signed into law that went into effect on July 1, 2019. Here's what you need to know about some of the new laws:
1. TRAFFIC: For those of you in Western Washington, HOV or carpool lane violations have higher fines. For the simple offender, the ticket goes up an extra $50 for a first-time violation. For those of you who try to be sneaky using stuffed animals, mannequins, and other faux-passengers, the violation is $200 more.
2. Health: The personal or philosophical exception to vaccinating children against measles, mumps, or rubella (the MMR vaccine) is no more. That means that parents must vaccinate their children before sending them to school or licensed day cares. The religious exemption still exists.
3. Employment. A big win for back-to-work moms - employers now have to either provide a private place that is not a bathroom stall or work with the employee to allow her to breast feed and/or pump breast milk in a private setting.
4. Voting. All ballots in Washington will include prepaid postage for all elections to reduce barriers to voting.
5. Residential Tenants: Renters made two big wins. First, a tenant must give 14-days notice for an eviction due to non-payment of rent. This is 11 days more than under prior laws. Second, a landlord must provide sixty (60) days written notice to increase rent. Per usual, a landlord cannot increase rent while a lease is still valid. That means if you signed a year-long residential lease, you get the stated amount of rent during that year - no changes can occur to the amount of monthly rent.
This is just a portion of the new Washington laws. Remember, your city or county may have additional new laws, especially if you're in King County. As always, for our Idaho clients, we're happy to give you a rundown of your rights' in Idaho, as they often vary greatly from those in Washington. We're here to help.
All blog posts are written by members of the GIANTlegal team, unless otherwise indicated. Information contained in our blog does not constitute legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.