Evictions are unpleasant but sometimes necessary. For property owners in Seattle, it’s important to understand what situations allow for a legal eviction and how to go about performing an eviction properly. By following all eviction steps, you can protect yourself from legal difficulties and remove your tenant as quickly as possible.

Just-Cause Evictions in Seattle
In the state of Washington, there are no "just-cause" eviction laws for tenants, and this makes it far easier to evict a tenant because you don't require a specific reason for the eviction. However, in Seattle evictions require just-cause, serving as regional exception to eviction laws in Washington. In Seattle, you are required to file a civil lawsuit with King County Superior Court to move forward with an eviction. You also need to have a valid legal reason why you’re evicting your tenant. Among the reasons that are applicable are:

  • Your tenant fails to comply with your notice demanding payment of rent.
  • Your tenant has frequently failed to pay rent.
  • Your tenant fails to vacate your property after the end of the lease.
  • You wish to turn the rental space into your primary residence.
  • Your tenant has broken the law in your rental space or is abusing or selling drugs from your rental space.
  • Your tenant fails to comply with the lease stipulations.

These are just some of the most common reasons that provide a legal basis for eviction, but there are 18 in total. The just-cause eviction policy of Seattle also applies to month-to-month leases but does not cover the tenant after the lease is finished.

Performing the Eviction Properly
Don't remove a tenant yourself in Seattle; it is illegal. You may not lock out a tenant, turn off the power or heat, or remove furniture. Once you secure a court order that indicates your eviction can move forward, you may request the help of a county sheriff if your tenant is not complying with the eviction order. If your tenant threatens you or has a violent history, be sure to have a sheriff present during the eviction process.
After you move forward with the eviction, it’s a good idea to document any potential damage to your property. Often, evictions lead tenants to take actions out of anger, and photographs and police reports help you bring any future damage claims to court.

Notice to End Tenancy
You are required under Seattle law to provide notice that you are seeking to evict your tenant. The amount of time you have to provide your tenant to vacate the property depends on the reason you are seeking eviction. For example, in cases where a tenant has frequently failed to pay rent, you are required to provide 20 days notice before you start your eviction. If you plan to sell the rental unit to a single family, then an eviction would require 60 days notice.
Thoroughly document any problems you are having with your tenants, such as whether they've failed to pay their rent or have damaged your property. If the tenants challenge their eviction, your evidence should help your case stand up in court, and the judge is likely to grant your court order for eviction.
Ultimately, if you are unsure whether you have a legal reason to evict your tenant, you should speak with a lawyer. However, in most cases, by following the proper protocol, you should be able to successfully evict your tenant.

Please note: These articles are for informational purposes and we advise you to consult an attorney for more specific information related to your situation.

POSTED March 02 2015 12:58 PM

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