When there are problems with a tenant, it can often prove difficult trying to evict them. For any instances regarding criminal activity, however, a tenant will need to be evicted immediately.
The Seattle Just Cause Ordinance protects landlords in the event of criminal activity within their building, as well as protecting the rights of the tenant. However, the eviction must still follow standard eviction procedures, and the criminal is still afforded some basic tenancy rights. Gaining a better understanding of the Seattle Just Cause Ordinance will help landlords learn their rights when dealing with tenant criminal behavior.
1. How does the Seattle Just Cause Ordinance protect landlords?
The Seattle Just Cause Ordinance protects tenants by not allowing a landlord to evict them without cause. The Ordinance lists reasons why a tenant may be required to move out, which includes engaging in illegal or criminal activity within the rental or lease unit in question.
In order to terminate a tenancy agreement, a landlord must provide written notice to the tenant, requiring them to leave near the end of the month, or whenever their next month's rent would normally be due. A landlord can only terminate a tenancy agreement as long as their reasons to do so are permissible under the Just Cause Ordinance. The tenant must also be given 20 days of notice. A tenant may not be evicted due to discriminatory or retaliatory actions.
2. How can a tenant be evicted for criminal activity?
While a tenant cannot be immediately evicted from a rental unit for criminal activity, it is possible to evict them with three day's notice. If a tenant has participated in illegal activity within the rental or lease unit, the landlord has the right, under state law, to provide three days notice for immediate eviction in order to get the tenant to leave. To evict the tenant within a three day time frame, rather than the usual 20 days, requires specific reasons why the tenant may be a risk. These reasons include: causing extensive damage to a suite, known as “waste;” being a nuisance within the building, including drug-related activity; or running an unlawful business from the suite.
A landlord may evict a tenant who is engaging in criminal activity within the rental unit, or on the immediate property surrounding the building or premises. This alleged criminal activity must be a hazard to the health, welfare, and safety of the other tenants.
Landlords seeking this type of eviction must provide a written letter outlining the facts, which must be presented to the tenant in question, and filed with the Seattle Department of Planning & Development Property Owner Tenant Assistance Unit (POTA).
3. How does the law protect the landlord from tenant harassment?
A tenant is prohibited from changing the locks of their rental unit or providing any retaliatory action against the landlord. A tenant may not remove landlord-owned property or willfully damage the building. Further criminal activity should be immediately reported to the Seattle Police Department.
4. Is a landlord required to return deposits?
A landlord is still required to return a security deposit within fourteen days of the tenant leaving. If deposits are being kept due to cleaning or damage to the unit, the landlord must provide a written letter to the tenant outlining the reasons why part or all of the deposit won’t be returned. The tenant should provide a forwarding address to the landlord to facilitate the refunds. The landlord is required to hold any left over money for one year, but in the event that the tenant fails to claim a deposit, the money becomes the landlord's.
Please note: These articles are for informational purposes and we advise you to consult an attorney for more specific information related to your situation.
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