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Unlawful Detainers (Evictions) in Washington State

Most evictions in WA are governed by RCW 59.18 - Residential Landlord Tenant Act (link) or RCW 59.20 - Manufactured Housing Landlord Tenant Act (link).

Eviction Process Steps and Timelines

The steps of a typical eviction process are roughly the following:

  1. The Tenant breaches the lease by either not paying rent or performing some act or omission that materially violates the rental lease or by refusing to vacate the premises.
  2. The Landlord posts a ten or 14 day notice on the door, and the tenant must respond to the Landlord’s notice within ten or 14 days, depending on the type of notice that is posted.
  3. If the Tenant does not comply with the notice, an eviction lawsuit must be initiated in the county where the property is located.
  4. The Landlord then sends a copy of the notice and a copy of the lease (if written), and the lawyer drafts the eviction Summons and Complaint and hires a process server for service on the Defendant. If personal service is not possible then Alternate Service may be authorized by the court but the Plaintiff may then only recover possession of the premises, no money judgment is allowed.
  5. After being served with the eviction summons, the Tenant has 7 days to answer the Complaint.
  6. If the Tenant does not Answer the Complaint by the date on the eviction summons, the Landlord can get a “Default Judgment” from the court as well as a “Writ of Restitution”.
  7. The Writ of Restitution allows that if the tenant is still on the property after judgment is entered against them and the Sheriff has posted the Writ, the county Sheriff may forcibly remove the tenant, if necessary.
  8. The County Sheriff will coordinate a date and time with Landlord or Landlord’s agent to remove the Tenant, be there for the change the locks if necessary, and remove any of the Tenant’s personal belongings out unto the closest public right-of-way.
  9. The time it takes to complete an eviction varies depending on the process server, the county judge, and sheriffs’ schedules.

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