Washington Eviction Laws

Landlords should familiarize themselves with the statewide rules and procedures that govern evictions in the state of Washington and understand their responsibilities.

Quick Facts for Washington

  • Grounds for Eviction: Failure to pay rent, violation of rental agreement & illegal behaviors
  • Notice Required for Nonpayment of Rent: 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent
  • Notice Required to Terminate without Cause: 20-Day Notice to Vacate (before last day of month)
  • Notice Required for Lease Violations: 10-Day Notice to Quit or Cure
  • Fastest a Landlord Can Evict for Illegal Acts: 3 days (via Notice to Pay)
  • Duration for Tenant to Appeal Eviction Ruling: Within 7-30 days from service

How Long Does it Take to Evict a Tenant?

The eviction process is always unpredictable. In the state of Washington, the amount of time it takes to evict a tenant will depend upon a number of things. It will depend upon the reason the eviction is being sought, the type of tenant being evicted, and the tenant’s willingness to fight the eviction.

Reasons for Eviction

Washington state has established a set of reasons for which a landlord may legitimately seek to evict a tenant. These reasons include:

  • Failing to pay rent (R.C.W. 59.12.020 (3)
  • Remaining on the property after the end of the lease or rental agreement (R.C.W. 59.12.020 (1)(2)
  • Violating the terms of the lease or rental agreement (R.C.W. 59.12.020 (4)
  • Committing or permitting gang-related activity on the property (R.C.W. 59.12.020 (7)
  • Committing or permitting “waste” or nuisance behavior on the property or running an unlawful business on the property (R.C.W. 59.12.020 (5)

Eviction for Failure to Pay Rent

If a tenant fails to pay rent on time, the landlord is required to provide a written 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit before he/she may proceed with the eviction process. 

In the state of Washington, a landlord may evict an “at-will” tenant without cause. 

Evicting a Tenant For Violation of Rental Agreement/Lease

When a tenant in the state of Washington has violated terms of the lease, the landlord must first provide a 10-Day Notice before proceeding with the eviction process. If the tenant fails to or can not remedy the violation and continues to remain on the property past 10 days, the landlord may proceed with filing a Summons and Complaint.  

To evict a tenant for illegal behavior, a landlord must first provide a 3-Day Notice to Quit

How Does a Landlord Evict a Tenant When There is no Lease?

In the state of Washington, a landlord may evict an “at-will” tenant without cause. To end a month-to-month “at-will” rental agreement, the landlord must provide a 20-Day Notice before the end of the last day of the month.

It is illegal for a landlord to seek to evict a tenant for filing a complaint about the safety or condition of the property to the appropriate agency or to exercise any of his/her tenant rights. It is also illegal for the landlord to seek to evict the tenant based on his/her race, gender, nation or origin, religion, familial status, or disability status. 

Once a Notice has Expired

The landlord may file a Summons and Complaint with the court. The tenant will receive a copy of the paperwork and have approximately a week to respond. The tenant should provide all defenses with his/her response to the complaint. If the tenant responds to the complaint, the landlord must request a Hearing to Show Cause. The hearing will be set between 7 and 30 days of service unless the summons must be served by publication (R.C.W. 59.12.070). and the tenant must attend the hearing. The judge will also both sides to present evidence.

Once Eviction Occurs

If the court rules in the landlord’s favor, the clerk will issue a Writ of Restitution to be served by the sheriff. If the tenant continues to remain on the property, the landlord must schedule a physical eviction with the sheriff.  

Make sure to read the Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 59.12 before starting the eviction process. Landlords should make sure to educate themselves on their rights and responsibilities on this topic.