Unfortunately, most landlords will have to evict an occupant/tenant at some point from one of their properties. Especially now, given the economic climate, evictions are at an all-time high. In Washington, the law heavily favors occupants/tenants. To successfully evict an occupant/tenant, there are many motions, affidavits, and notices required at different stages in the eviction process. If a landlord does not submit all the required documents, he or she will not prevail in an unlawful detainer action, otherwise known as an eviction. Given the many requirements for an eviction, it is best to consult an experience landlord attorney. They can ensure that all the paperwork is submitted and no time is wasted by having to redo the eviction or any part of the process.
There are four main types of evictions: 1) former owner of a house sold at a non-judicial foreclosure auction; 2) former tenants of a property sold at a non-judicial foreclosure auction; 3) nonpayment of rent; 4) breach of lease. All four of these evictions vary slightly, but the process is more or less the same. An experience landlord attorney can assist you in navigating the subtle nuisances between the different evictions. However, below is a generalized time frame for an eviction.
The first step in the eviction process is giving proper notice to the occupants. The notices must be both posted and mailed first class and certified mail return receipt requested. The notices vary in length (3 day, 60 day, 90 day, etc) and type (notice to vacate, notice of termination of tenancy, notice to comply with lease, etc) depending on the type of eviction. Experienced landlord attorneys will be able to assist you in ensuring the proper notice is served. The notice and the process in which the notice is served is extremely important; if no notice or the improper notice is served, the court will lack jurisdiction to rule in the landlord’s favor. In other words, if the landlord does everything else correct in the eviction process, and even if all the facts are on the landlord’s side, a judge will not rule in his or her favor if no notice or the improper notice was served on the occupants
After the time period for the notice has expired, the next step in the eviction process is serving the tenants with a summons and complaint. The Complaint is the motion in which the landlord alleges all the facts and law in his favor to show how the occupants are unlawfully occupying the property. The Summons tells the occupants they are being sued and gives them a time frame to answer the complaint. Washington law requires personal service on tenants. Personal service is usually accomplished by hiring third party process servers.
Sometimes, occupants evade service by not answering the door when they see a process server coming. If this happens, additional motions are needed to ask the court to serve the occupants by mail and posting.
If the occupants do not respond within the time frame on the Summons, the landlord can request a default. An experienced attorney will draft and submit these documents to the court. If the occupants do respond within the time required by the Summons, the landlord or their attorney must motion the court to set a court date, called a Show Cause Hearing. Once the judge approves the Show Cause Hearing, the occupants must be given at least seven days notice of the hearing. At the Show Cause Hearing, the judge hears arguments from both parties and decides in favor of one party or the other.
After the Motion for Default or Show Cause Hearing, a judge will sign an order to issue a Writ of Restitution. Once the Writ is issued, the Writ and additional paperwork must be submitted to the Sherriff. Washington does not allow self-help eviction. Only a Sheriff, after the court process, may evict an occupant.
The eviction process has very specific notice and service requirements that must be met in order to prevail in an unlawful detainer case. In order to ensure proper procedures are followed, we recommend you retain an experienced landlord/tenant attorney.
Dimension Law Group has experienced attorneys that know the nuances of the eviction process and are ready to help. If you have any further questions, please contact our office for a free 10-minute phone consultation.