Perhaps you've just started a new career as a landlord in Washington State and have your first reliable tenants in your rental unit. Recently, you've maybe run across one bad tenant who isn't paying their rent on time, or at all. If you see it's going to become a recurring problem, what legal rights do you have toward eviction? Washington gives you legal byways to evict based on not paying rent. Nevertheless, it involves sometimes lengthy legal steps to assure you properly follow the law.
Giving You Legal Leeway on When Rent is Due
You don't have to legally provide any grace periods on when you expect your rent. If a tenant doesn't pay on the date you set, you're automatically in position to evict if you so choose. What's important is to set up a lease with your tenant in advance so you both have an understanding when the rent is due.
If you so choose to provide a grace period, you can. When this becomes violated, you have right to send a specific notice to pay, or face termination of the agreement.
A Three-Day Notice
In Washington, you can send a three-day pay notice to a tenant if they haven't paid on the date you agreed to. It means the tenant has to pay the rent within three days, or move out within the same time frame. When you create this notice, you need to stipulate these alternatives. You can't just send separate notices to pay or vacate.
You'll need to include specific information in the notice to make it legal. Include the date you served the notice, the name and address of your tenant, the reason for the notice, the amount of rent due, and the three-day statement. End with a note on how you delivered the notice.
What Rights Does the Tenant Have?
Remember, the tenant does have some rights before you evict them. If they pay the rent within three days, you have to drop any eviction proceedings. You also have to avoid the "self-help" eviction process. In this scenario, you may change locks or shut off utilities as a forced way to evict your tenant. This is illegal, and the tenant has a right to file a lawsuit against you if you take these actions.
Going Through the Superior Court of Washington for an Eviction
The only way to evict legally is to obtain a summons, complaint, or order through Washington's Superior Court. Once successful on obtaining a summons, the judge sets a hearing for the tenant. At the hearing, you'll need to bring all evidence available showing just cause for why you're evicting the person.
When the judge agrees with your side, they'll issue a writ of restitution for the sheriff's office to remove the tenant. It's one example in how you ultimately need a legal authority to evict rather than you taking action alone.
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