When property owners decide they need a renter to move out after repeated lease violations, they can go through the legal eviction process, should this process not run afoul of our new winter eviction moratorium.
However, before property owners can evict a renter, they must file a lawsuit against them in the King County Superior Court. The state of Washington doesn't play any role in the eviction process, aside from upholding the city codes that property owners must follow regarding written notices. Property owners must give renters written notice before they begin the eviction process.
There are a number of other steps worth following as a property investor if you decide to go this route. Today, we're going to explore this sensitive topic a bit more to give property owners an idea of what they're facing should they proceed.
Please note: The information available in this guide is not a substitute for legal advice or assistance. Under Chapter 59.12 RCW, you can find Washington's statutes for evictions. Because rental laws in Washington state are complex, Seattle property management companies have the experience and expertise you need to ensure the eviction process is legal.
If You Must Evict a Renter
Before moving forward with the eviction process, it's best to retain a lawyer. If you're unsure where to find the best lawyer for your case, Seattle property management companies are an excellent resource for referrals.
Attorneys are well-versed regarding notices to renters, which are as follows:
- 14-day notice: Property owners must give renters at least 14 days' notice when they fail to pay rent and utility charges. Property owners cannot collect any additional fees during this time. Renters have 14 days to comply or vacate.
- 10-day notice: If renters violate specific lease conditions, aside from paying rent, property owners can furnish them with a 10-day notice to vacate.
- Month-to-month leases: If property owners decide to rent on a month-to-month basis, then they must follow Seattle's Just Cause Eviction Ordinance.
If you believe that it's time to evict a renter, make sure you keep a written track record of events. Document everything, including interactions, any late rental payments, lease violations, and more.
About Just Cause Evictions
The only time a property owner can evict a renter in Seattle is if they have a just cause. If property owners don't have a just cause, like with a month-to-month renter, they cannot evict the resident. The following elements pertain to a just cause eviction:
- If renters fail to comply with the notice to pay or vacate that they receive
- If renters fail to comply with the notice to comply with the lease or vacate you sent them
- If renters are habitual offenders regarding lease term compliance or paying rent late (this element must include at least four notices of pay or vacate or at least three notices to comply or vacate in a 12-month timeframe)
- If residents fail to vacate the property when the lease term concludes
- When owners want to use the property as their primary residence and give renters at least 90 days' notice
- If the property owner plans to sell the single-family property and gives residents at least 90 days' notice
- If the property's owner's immediate family needs to use the rental property and the property owner gives residents at least 90 days' notice (this element requires immediate family members to occupy the rental for at least 60 consecutive days within the 90-day timeframe following vacancy)
- If the property owner makes employment a condition of their occupancy and their employment terminates (if you're uncertain how to move forward with this element, speak with an attorney)
- If the property needs a considerable amount of rehabilitation (before terminating the rental agreement, property owners must obtain a permit and relocation license).
Prevent Evictions With Thorough Screenings
The best Seattle property management companies (like Real Property Associates) can help prevent evictions by conducting a thorough screening process. If you complete the screening process without their assistance, you can turn to them for advice and guidance.
These screenings typically include:
- Eviction history: Check to see if the applicant has any previous evictions or any rent-related collections on their credit report.
- Verifying income: Prevent payment problems by verifying the rental applicant's current and past income. Then, calculate the rent-to-income ratio to determine if they can afford to make payments on time.
- Check all references: Collect employment, personal, and rental history references. Each should help you determine if they're providing accurate information, how they treat properties, and their employment performance.
- Run a credit check: If a rental applicant has a high credit score, that indicates that they have a positive financial history regarding on-time payments.
- Criminal background check: Property owners can help prevent putting their property or the rest of the neighborhood at risk by conducting a criminal background check.
Learn More About Evictions the Right Way!
Seattle property management companies understand the cost of the eviction process. We know how to take proactive steps to prevent them. If you believe you must evict a renter from one of your properties, let the expert property managers at Real Property Associates lead you through the process legally! Get started with our free Eviction Checklist to confirm you're on the right path.