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Hayden company settles lawsuit over pandemic evictions in Airway Heights, Spokane Valley

UPDATED: Tue., Jan. 19, 2021

A Hayden, Idaho, company has settled a lawsuit over alleged violation of Washington’s emergency orders against evicting tenants during the pandemic with an agreement to pay $50,000 and issue no more eviction notices that could violate that order.

Whitewater Creek, Inc., which owns and operates apartment properties in Airway Heights, Spokane, Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake, signed a consent decree with the Washington Attorney General’s office that was scheduled to be filed Wednesday in Spokane County Superior Court. It has a dozen properties with more than 1,000 units.

In the lawsuit, filed in August, the state’s Civil Rights Division alleged that Whitewater employees issued verbal eviction orders last April to tenants in Basalt Ridge in Airway Heights and Winter Heights apartments in Spokane Valley after Gov. Jay Inslee issued an emergency proclamation banning evictions during the pandemic.

That March proclamation placed a temporary moratorium on evictions for state residents unable to pay rent as they cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The moratorium remains in effect.

Whitewater does not admit that it did anything wrong by signing the agreement. It does, however, agree not to evict any tenants for non-payment or late payment of rent while the moratorium is in place, educate its employees about tenants’ rights and notify the attorney general’s office about any eviction proceedings initiated in the next three years. It will also pay $50,000 to cover the state’s costs of bringing the legal action.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson said many residents are struggling because of the pandemic and the consent degree sends a message to other property companies that they need to follow the law.

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