UPDATED: February 13, 2020
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Washington state landlords who wish to evict their tenants must go through a multi-step process. In cases where there is a lease with a specific expiration, landlords may only evict tenants for certain reasons. Regardless of the terms of the lease, landlords must go through the steps required by law or risk penalties.
Available Washington Termination Notices
Before beginning eviction proceedings, Washington landlords need to give notice to a tenant to move out or, in the case of a lease violation or nonpayment of rent, comply with their rental obligations. One of the only times when a landlord does not need to give notice is when a lease expires but a tenant continues to remain on the premises. Otherwise, the most common reasons a landlord may give notice is if there is no lease expiration date, when a tenant violates a condition of the lease, or when a tenant is past due on rent.
Depending on the circumstances, a Washington landlord must give notice to the tenant a certain number of days before the tenant is to leave:
3-Day Notice: Once rent is past due, a tenant must be given three additional days to pay or vacate. If a tenant is conducting certain illegal activities, permitting waste, creating a nuisance on the property, or squatting, the landlord must also give the tenant three days notice to vacate.
10-Day Notice: If the tenant is violating the lease or rental agreement, they must be given 10 days to comply or vacate.
20-Day Notice: In cases where the rental agreement is month to month or some other periodic time with an unspecified expiration.
How do I Serve Notice in Washington?
In most circumstances, notice is a matter of simply delivering the notice to the intended person by handing it to them. If the person is not on the premises, service can be achieved by either giving the notice to some other person living with them along with mailing a copy, or by posting the notice on the property (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. Section 59.12.040). However, there may be other caveats depending on the circumstances, and you may wish to seek assistance from a Washington evictions lawyer in this matter.
In Washington, evictions are handled in Superior Court. Find your local Superior Court at the Washington courts directory. The eviction process can sometimes be initiated by simply filling out forms that you obtain from your local court. Remember, though, that while filing forms with your court may seem like a simple and straightforward way to evict your problem tenant, tenants have rights also, and events may not unfold exactly as you had planned. If at any point along the way you're unsure about the termination and/or eviction process, you may wish to hire or consult a Washington landlord or tenant attorney. When you do so, you can refer to the Questions to Ask your Washington Evictions Lawyer below.
Self-Help Evictions in Washington
While simply changing your tenant's locks or shutting off utilities may seem like the easiest solution to a landlord's tenant problems, self-help evictions are not permissible under Washington law. Tenants can sue for actual damages suffered, plus penalties of $100 per day for utility interruption (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. Section 59.18.300).
Questions to Ask Your Washington Evictions Lawyer
- How many evictions cases have you handled?
- How many were successful/unsuccessful?
- How long will the eviction process take?
- For tenants: How long do I have before I MUST move out?
- For landlords: Will I be able to get a judgment for back rent for the amount of time the tenant has been living in the rental property illegally?
- What do you charge?
- For landlords: If I hire you, will I be subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)?