Evictions Washington
Washington Evictions

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 A Washington landlord must follow certain procedures to terminate a tenancy. To terminate a periodic tenancy, a landlord must give at least 20 days' written notice prior to the end of the month. However, if the tenant violates his or her obligations, for example, by failing to pay the rent, the landlord may terminate the lease through eviction proceedings. When a tenant is being evicted because of a rule excluding children or because of conversion to condominiums, 90 days' notice is required.

The action by a landlord to remove a tenant from a rental unit is known as an eviction or an "unlawful detainer." (As in most states) Some local housing codes define "just cause" for an eviction and outline procedures that must be followed.

In an eviction based on nonpayment of rent, a tenant may assert any claim for money owed the tenant by the landlord. The tenant's claim (sometimes known as an equitable defense or setoff) must be related to the tenancy, such as the tenant's payment of a gas bill that was the landlord's responsibility under the rental agreement. In eviction actions strict rules and procedures must be observed. Generally, a legal eviction process involves:

  • Proper notice. Before evicting a tenant, the landlord must serve the required eviction notices using proper procedures. Proper notice usually involves mailing, handing to the tenant, or posting on the unit, the notice.

  • Filing of a lawsuit. If the tenant fails to move out, a lawsuit must be filed to evict the tenant.

  • Entitlement to a court hearing. If the tenant disputes the reasons for the eviction, the tenant is entitled to a court hearing.

  • Sheriff's involvement. If the tenant loses the court hearing, the sheriff would then be ordered to physically evict a tenant and remove the property in the unit. Only the sheriff, not the landlord, can physically remove a tenant who does not comply with an eviction notice and only after an unlawful detainer lawsuit has been filed.

  • Liability for attorneys' fees. In an eviction dispute, the successful party is entitled to recoup costs and attorney fees.

Settlement of Disputes  The landlord and tenant may agree to arbitration, asking a neutral party to settle the dispute. The process is usually quick and inexpensive, with the administrative fee shared equally unless otherwise allocated by the arbitrator. Landlord-tenant problems can also be resolved through informal mediation. In mediation, a third person intervenes between two disputing parties in an effort to reach an agreement, compromise or reconciliation. Intended to settle a dispute quickly and inexpensively, mediation can be requested by either a landlord or tenant and may be available without charge from city or county agencies. If they are dissatisfied with the mediation process, the parties may pursue legal remedies.

Prohibited Eviction Landlords are generally prohibited from locking a tenant out of the premises, from taking a tenant's property for nonpayment of rent (except for abandoned property under certain conditions), or from intentionally terminating a tenant's utility service. Various penalties exist for violating these protections.

Retaliatory evictions are also illegal. A landlord may not terminate a tenancy or increase rent or change other terms of the rental agreement to retaliate against a tenant who asserts his or her rights under the Landlord-Tenant Act or reports violations of housing codes or ordinances.

Disclaimer: The law is constantly changing and there may be times when the information on this web site will not be current. This information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. This information is not a comprehensive treatment of the subject and is not a substitute for advice from an attorney. ADDITIONAL RULES MAY APPLY IN YOUR JURISDICTION. 

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