Landlord Eviction Attorney in Washington
Erin Bradley McAleer represents Landlord Eviction Attorney in Washington troublesome tenants, obtaining a judgment, and pursing collection against collectible tenants. As a courtesy to all landlords, we offer a complimentary consultation can review of your screening process, as well as a detailed review of your forms and letters used to interact and conduct business with your tenants. Even minor mistakes in the wording of standardized forms, or minor mistakes in the procedure used can delay getting a bad tenant removed. Don’t be taken hostage by a bad tenant. Call now for a free confidential consultation.
A landlord must follow exacting procedures to terminate a tenancy. The Residential Landlord Tenant Act changed in 2021 making evictions much more costly and expensive for landlords with the advent of the “good cause eviction” statutes, and establishing programs to provide tenants free attorney representation. In Clark County these tenant organizations are primarily represented by the Clark County Volunteer Lawyers Program and the Northwest Justice Project. These organizations, although in purpose are well meaning, they take untenable approaches to cases and often the only value they can provide are delay tactics which can be viewed as borderline unethical misconduct. These organizations do not fight fair and often seek substantial reductions in rent owed, or other concessions to prevent the eviction from being used in future screening processes to benefit their clients at your detriment.
A skilled lawyer familiar with these organizations tactics is necessary to getting your unpaying or bad tenant out as fast as possible. Just as the United States has a policy against negotiating with terrorists’ organizations, we often advise our clients not to engage in negotiations with either the Clark County Volunteer Lawyers or the Northwest Justice Project, because although they are not really terrorists, their attorneys and clients can rarely be relied upon for following through with promises, and they often seek unfair resolutions which our clients feel like they are being terrorized by the process when all they expect is for their tenants to abide by the terms of their lease and pay their rent.
Thus, it is extremely to seek legal advice before taking action against your tenant. If the tenant violates their obligations under a lease such as not paying rent, the landlord may end the lease through eviction proceedings. The responsibilities of each party as well as the procedures for ending the tenancy will vary depending type of tenancy and the terms of a lease agreement.
If either the landlord or the tenant wishes to end the lease because of violations of the rental agreement by the other, such action must comport with the terms of the lease agreement as well as landlord-tenant laws. A tenant who breaks a lease and moves without proper notice may be responsible for the rent for the balance of the term while the landlord has to make reasonable efforts to relent the premises in order to mitigate damages.
An action by a landlord to evict a tenant from leased premises is called an “unlawful detainer” action. In an eviction based on non-payment of rent, a tenant may assert a claim for money owed the tenant by the landlord. The tenant’s claim (sometimes known as an equitable defense or set off) must be related to the tenancy, such as the tenant’s payment of a bill that was the landlord’s responsibility under the lease agreement.
Strict rules and procedures govern unlawful detainer actions. Generally, the legal eviction process for non-payment or insufficient payment of rent begins by serving notice of a pay or vacate notice to a tenant demanding that they pay the rent in arrears or vacate the premises within the time allowed by law or the terms of a lease agreement. If the tenant fails to pay or vacate within the time allowed, the landlord may then file a lawsuit to obtain a writ of restitution directing a sheriff to physically evict the tenant and obtain a monetary judgment for unpaid rent and other damages allowed by the lease agreement or by Washington law. If the tenant challenges the basis for the eviction, they are entitled to a court hearing (usually within 30 days).
If the tenant loses the court hearing or defaults, the sheriff would then be ordered to physically evict a tenant and remove the property in the unit via the writ of restitution. Only the sheriff can physically evict a tenant. A landlord may not resort to self-help. In an eviction action, the successful party is entitled to costs and attorney fees.
This is a very short summary of some common issues and defenses in eviction actions in Washington. It is no substitute for legal advice. For more information, or to schedule a free confidential consultation please call us at (360) 371-6813.