This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information.
This page was last updated on Oct 31st, 2023. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.
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Problem with your Landlord?
Are you having problems with your landlord?
Behind on Rent?
Find local programs that can help you with housing costs, or work out a plan with your landlord.
Received a Warning Notice about Eviction?
Have you received a warning notice from your landlord, like a ‘Notice to Quit’ or a ‘Notice to Leave’? Find what options you have.
Facing an Eviction Lawsuit?
Has your landlord filed an eviction lawsuit in court? Have you received a Summons and Complaint? Learn what rights and options you have.
Emergency Protections during COVID
Do renters have protections against eviction during the Covid-19 emergency?
Tell your landlord about any repairs needed, particularly if they affect your health and safety.
You should call your landlord to make the repairs as soon as possible.
Emergency repairs could be for problems with:
Running water or hot water
Stove, refrigerator, or oven
Missing doors, locks, or windows
If your landlord doesn't make the repairs promptly, send them a written letter or email about the need for emergency repairs (and keep a copy of this communication).
Reach out for legal help for additional guidance.
Contact a legal help organization to help defend yourself.
It is illegal for your landlord to evict you without first going to court and getting an eviction order. To remove you from your home, a landlord must take you to court by filing an eviction lawsuit, win the case, and getting an eviction order from the court.
Legal aid groups might be able to provide you with full representation, or other legal organizations can give you information or brief advice.
Find legal help to protect your rights.
You may be able to break your lease if you can come to an agreement with your landlord.
You can talk to your landlord to see if they will agree to let you leave early. If they agree, be sure to get the agreement in writing.
Also, you can review your lease. It may have a part that lets you end the lease early in times of financial difficulty. If your lease has this kind of part, you might be able to break the lease (in some cases penalty-free).
Find legal help to get advice for your situation.
Most Rental Assistance programs let landlords apply.
Either a renter or a landlord can start the application.
The landlord will have to fill in as much information they have about the amount of money needed, and the eligibility for the program. The tenant may have to fill in the rest of the information.
Local governments set the rules about who is eligible for rent relief. Most programs focus on people who have suffered COVID-19 hardships.
You can talk to your local Rental Assistance program to learn their eligibility rules.
You may have to show your household income, or if you are on other benefits programs like SNAP.
You may also have to show that you are at risk of homelessness or eviction if you don't get rental assistance.
Many local Rental Assistance programs are open to everyone, regardless of immigration status. Many programs do not even ask about immigration status.
Check with your local Rental Assistance program to make sure about eligibility rules and immigration.
If you are behind on rent, you can get help from your local Rental Assistance program. This is a government service to help people who owe rent or utility bills.
Especially if you are behind on rent because of COVID-19 hardships, your local Rental Assistance (or Rent Relief) program can help you.
Find your local Rental Assistance program at your Get Help page here.
You still have time to reach out for rental assistance, and stop the eviction from moving forward. Be sure to let the local group know that you have received an eviction notice and what its deadline is. They may be able to help you pay the rent you owe, or work with your landlord to reduce the amount or put you on a payment plan. Find local financial help in Washington here.
A verbal conversation doesn't count as an "eviction notice". To be legal, the notice must be written down and given to you in the correct way.
Reach out for legal help if your landlord is trying to make you leave without going through the court process. This is illegal and a lawyer may be able to help you protect yourself.
No, you do not have to leave (or 'vacate') your home by the date listed on the eviction notice.
You do not have to leave your home until you have been brought to court, and a judge has ordered that your landlord can make you leave. Remaining in the home after the time in the notice expires raises the chances that a landlord will file an eviction in court to remove you.
After the date on the eviction notice passes, then your landlord may file an eviction lawsuit in court against you. You will be able to go to court and present defenses to protect yourself.
If the eviction is for nonpayment of rent then you have a minimum of 14 days between your landlord giving you a notice and them filing a lawsuit against you in court to evict you. Other notices have shorter time frames, for things like violating the lease or causing a nuisance.
*The city of Seattle allows you to pay overdue rent in installments.
The notice should tell you how many days the landlord is giving you. If they are giving you less than 14 days, then you may be able to challenge it as illegal.
Reach out for legal help if you think the notice isn't giving you the required time to make your payment.
You do not have to leave your home yet. Landlords can not physically remove you, touch your personal property, change the locks, or cut off your utilities.
In Washington, your landlord must give you an official notice that they may bring you to court to evict you for not paying your rent (or other reasons). The notice should give you time to either pay your rent or prepare defenses against eviction.
This official notice must follow some rules to be valid. If it doesn't follow these rules, then you can challenge it and stop an eviction.
These are the Washington requirements for an eviction notice:
The notice must be written down.
It has to be signed and dated by the owner/landlord.
It must explain why you may be evicted -- whether it is for non-payment of rent, a lease violation, or other reason.
It has to say exactly how much rent you owe, as well as the address you can pay it at or mail it to.
The notice must have the dates the overdue rent is for.
It has to say that this rent must be fully paid within 14 days of receiving this notice or you must move out.
Reach out for legal help if you think the notice isn't correct, or if you need assistance in defending yourself against the eviction.
You should make sure that the landlord properly 'served' you with the lawsuit. If they didn't give it to you in the correct way, you can challenge the eviction lawsuit. In Washington, a landlord must follow certain rules to let you know about the lawsuit:
You should also reach out to local lawyers who can help you prepare for your court hearing so you can protect yourself against the eviction. Find local legal help in Washington here.
You can come to an agreement with your landlord, but you should still go to court to make sure your case is closed.
You can work with your landlord to work out an agreement before the date of the court hearing. This might be a payment plan or other agreement on what needs to happen for you to stay in your home.
Be sure to get this agreement in writing, so that you can prove it exists and that your landlord follows through on it.
Also, you should still go to court for your hearing date, to make sure the court knows about the agreement and closes the lawsuit. If you do not go to court, the lawsuit might still continue and the judge might rule that the landlord can remove you. Go to court yourself to make sure this doesn't happen.
You can reach out for legal help to get assistance in negotiating an agreement with your landlord, and making sure this agreement is being followed.
In Washington, you are required to respond to the eviction lawsuit, if you want to avoid the eviction.
You will have 20 days after you receive the Summons and Complaint to get a written response back to the court. If you do not submit this response by the 20th day, you may lose your case and the judge may give the landlord permission to remove you from your home.
Reach out to legal help to learn what your rights and defenses are in your eviction case. These organizations can help you deal with this lawsuit.
Yes, Washington renters still need to pay rent during the emergency. Landlords cannot charge late fees for unpaid rent, that renters missed between February 29, 2020 and July 31, 2021. Also check with your local city or county government to see if they give renters any additional protections if they are struggling to pay rent during the emergency. If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:
Washington's protections mean that after June 30, 2021:
Your landlord can give you a notice telling you to move out.
Your landlord can file an eviction claim in court against you.
Hearings on eviction are going forward, and the court may hear an existing eviction case that had been filed against you.
Courts can issue orders and writs for eviction.
Law enforcement can enforce an eviction order against you, to remove you from your home.
Washington's statewide eviction moratorium for renters has expired.
Landlords may now sue tenants in court to try to evict them.
Earlier, Washington Governor Jay Inslee had issued an eviction moratorium.pdf?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery) that prohibited landlords from evicting most renters through June 30, 2021.
The order had prohibited late fees or raising the rent during this period. It also requires landlords to offer reasonable repayment plans when non-payment was due to COVID-19 related hardship. Exceptions to this moratorium include when the landlord can show eviction was necessary due to health or safety concerns or if the landlord seeks to sell or personally occupy the property.
Washington renters also had some later protections, that have expired:
If you owed rent from Feb. 29, 2020 through July 31, 2021, your landlord could not evict you until there is an operational rental assistance program and eviction resolution program in place in your county.
Landlords could not sue you for your unpaid rent or other charges until you both have the opportunity to go through an eviction resolution pilot program.
Eviction cases are proceeding again in Washington courts.
Check with the Washington State Courts to find updates on your local court's proceedings.
Now that the emergency period ended, renters in Washington may have their utilities shut off if they do not make timely payments.
During the emergency, Washington renters were protected from utility shutoffs if they could not pay their utility bills.
Governor Inslee ordered.pdf?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery) all energy, landline telephone, and water utility providers to continue services for residents during the emergency period. No customer should have home utilities shut off during the emergency, based on an inability to pay.
The utility companies were also not allowed to charge late fees for unpaid bills during the emergency period.
If you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help.
Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out. This is illegal. Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.
Washington renters can be evicted from their homes since the statewide moratorium expired on June 30, 2021.
If you receive a notice to quit from your landlord, or an eviction lawsuit, reach out for legal help.
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