Washington Eviction Process & Laws | Free WA Eviction Notices

The Washington eviction process, or 'Unlawful Detainer Process', starts with the landlord sending the tenant a notice that requires them to respond for either a lease violation (late rent or noncompliance) or for the cancellation of a tenancy at will. In either case, if the tenant fails to respond, the landlord may be able to file an eviction by following the State Instructions with the Clerk in Your County. The tenant has the right to defend themselves, after a case has been presented via Complaint and Summons, and should Review Their Rights before filling-in the Answer.

NonPayment Laws - 3 days RCW 59.12.030(3)

NonCompliance Laws - 10 days RCW 59.12.030(4)

Month to Month Laws - 20 days RCW 59.18.200

Forcible Entry or Unlawful Detainer Laws Chapter 59.12 RCW

Types of Notice



Washington 10 Day Notice to Comply or Vacate | NonCompliance

The Washington ten (10) day notice to comply or vacate, institutionalized by RCW 59.12.030(4), is the notice that must be served on a tenant who has committed a (curable) lease violation. The tenant must receive the notice (and be given the full time period of 10 days to cure the noncompliance)…

Washington 20 Day Lease Termination Letter Template

The Washington twenty (20) day lease termination letter, under RCW 59.18.200, may be used by a landlord to give due notice to a tenant (of the landlord’s intention to terminate the monthly rental agreement). If the tenant does not vacate the rental unit by the end of the 20th day of…

Washington 3 Day Notice to Pay or Quit | NonPayment of Rent

The Washington three (3) day to pay or quit, according to RCW 59.12.030(3), must be served on a tenant when they have failed to pay rent (in accordance with the lease agreement). The notice provides the tenant with three (3) days to either pay the rent or move out of the…

Washington 3 Day Notice to Vacate | Illegal Activity

The Washington three (3) day notice to vacate, for an act located in RCW 59.12.030(5), is the notice that must be used when a tenant has “violated a substantial obligation of the lease agreement” by committing acts that directly endanger the health/well being of the residents of the property. The notice…

Process How to Evict a Tenant

The process begins with the landlord serving the tenant with an eviction notice. There are four types of notices that can be served on a tenant (depending on the type of tenancy and the reason for the eviction). The standard time frame for an eviction in the State of Washington is typically 30 days, however it mostly depends on the specifics of the case as well as the current case load of the court. The guide below is a general overview of the main steps of the eviction process in Washington.

Step 1 – The tenant fails to pay rent (or commits a breach of the lease agreement). The landlord must serve the tenant with the proper notice. If the tenant has failed to pay rent, a three (3) day notice to pay/quit should be served. If the tenant has committed a (curable) lease violation, they must be served with the ten (10) day notice to comply/quit. Tenants who have committed illegal acts (such as drug trafficking or prostitution) on the premises of the rental property can be served with a three (3) day notice to vacate. Month-to-month tenancies can be terminated for any reason, but the tenant must receive a minimum of 20 days notice before the landlord can end the rental agreement.

Step 2 – If the tenant fails to comply with the demands of the notice within the specified time period, the landlord can then file an eviction action (known as an “unlawful detainer action”) in court. The tenant will then be served with a copy of the summons/complaint, and will need to file a written answer within seven (7) days of being served the court papers. If the tenant does not file an answer within the required time frame, a default judgement will be ruled against them. The answer must be filed in person, by mail, or via fax.

Step 3 – After the tenant has filed an answer, the hearing date (known as a “show cause hearing”) will be arranged. Typically this happens no more than 7-10 days after the answer has been filed, but can also occur much sooner (as soon as one day after the date the answer is due by).

Step 4 – Both parties are required to attend the show cause hearing. The judge will listen to both sides of the case (the landlord will get to present first), and then a judgement will be issued. If the ruling is made in favor of the landlord, the judge will issue an “writ of restitution” (granting the landlord possession of the property) as well as a judgement for the amount of past due rent and fees (as well as the landlord’s legal expenses). If the tenant wins the case, the suit will be dismissed by the judge (however the eviction filing will still appear on the tenant’s record).

Step 5 – The tenant will be served the writ of restitution by the Sheriff. The date of the actual eviction will occur at least 72 hours after the writ has been served (it usually occurs 3-5 days after the date of service).

Step 6 – The Sheriff will return and oversee the eviction. The landlord will change the locks and remove the tenant’s property from the unit.