Defenses to Eviction

The Just Cause Eviction Ordinance, in addition to regulating how rental agreements end, also offers defenses to eviction for certain renters. Eligible tenants can raise these defenses after the landlord files an unlawful detainer (eviction lawsuit). 

Post moratorium eviction protection

  • Applies for 6 months after the moratorium expires on February 28
  • Creates a defense for tenants with delinquent rent due to the impacts of the pandemic
  • All 14-day pay or vacate notices must include information on this eviction defense until August 31

Civil emergency eviction protection

  • Applies permanently with relation to delinquent rent accrued during the civil emergency and up to 6 months after the civil emergency ends
  • Creates a defense for tenants with delinquent rent accrued during this period
  • All 14-day pay or vacate notices for delinquent rent accrued during the civil emergency must include information on this eviction defense and up to six months after it ends

School year eviction protection 

  • Applies to eligible tenants during the Seattle School's academic year from September - June
  • Creates a defense for tenant households with children attending school (daycare - high school) as well as tenants employed in education during this period
  • Exemptions to this eviction defense include:
    • Owner/owner's immediate family need to occupy the unit themselves
    • Owner must discontinue renting an unpermitted unit after receiving notice from the City
    • Owner must reduce the number of tenants in a unit after receiving notice from the City
    • Owner must discontinue an accessory dwelling unit after receiving notice from the City
    • Owner must discontinue renting a unit that is deemed unsafe or uninhabitable by emergency order from the City
    • Owner issues a notice to quit for criminal activity, waste, or nuisance, imminent hazard

Winter eviction protection 

  • Applies to eligible tenants from December 1 - March 1
  • Creates a defense for tenant households at or below 80% of AMI (area median income) during this period
  • Exemptions to this eviction defense include:
    • Property owned by a landlord with less than 4 properties
    • Owner/owner's immediate family need to occupy the unit themselves
    • Owner wishes to sell a single-family dwelling unit 
    • Owner has to discontinue renting an unpermitted unit after receiving notice from the City
    • Owner has to reduce the number of tenants in a unit after receiving notice from the City
    • Owner has to discontinue an accessory dwelling unit after receiving notice from the City
    • Owner wishes to discontinue sharing their own housing unit
    • Owner has to discontinue renting a unit that is deemed unsafe or uninhabitable from the City
    • Owner issues a notice to quit for criminal activity, waste or nuisance, imminent hazard 

Other defenses to eviction exist throughout the code generally related to a landlord's action or inaction and include, for example: not registering a rental property, serving a deficient notice, and failing to certify for required just causes.