Washington state requires a four-step procedure before a physical eviction may occur. While these steps can vary slightly case by case, the general process remains common. The landlord must show legal cause to evict, and if the tenant wishes, he may defend himself against the landlord to stop the eviction process. If the tenant chooses to fight the charges, the eviction process can be extended by several weeks.
Notice of Eviction
Evictions typically must begin with giving notice to the tenant. The most common reasons for notices are failure to pay rent, failure to follow the lease agreement, waste or nuisance and to terminate tenancy. Most eviction notices allow three days for lack of payment and 10 days for lack of lease compliance. The tenant has the given time to comply, pay or vacate the premises.
If the tenant does not comply with the notice, an eviction litigation, or the legal process of eviction, may begin with a summons and complaint served to the tenant that outline the allegations. The tenant usually has seven to 10 days after the date of service to answer each allegation in the summons and complaint with a formal written response.
According to the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act in Washington, tenants cannot be evicted without an issued court order, and a court order isn't issued unless the tenant has had an opportunity to appear in court to oppose the eviction. The landlord must provide just cause for the eviction as defined by each local jurisdiction. For example, in Seattle, Washington, just cause includes failure to pay rent, engagement in criminal activity, or activity that affects the health or safety of other tenants.
After the court issues an order of eviction, the tenant has three days to vacate the premises, not including the day of the hearing. If the tenant refuses to cooperate within the given time period, the landlord can contact the sheriff's civil department to schedule a physical eviction. A physical eviction includes the literal removing of all the tenant's personal belongings.