The Washington State Legislature made many big changes to how Washington State evictions work. These changes are effective July 28, 2019. You need to make sure that you follow these rules when proceeding with an unlawful detainer (eviction) case. Feel free to call my office, as I do many of these cases each year. I aim to charge landlords an affordable fee in these cases. By hiring a lawyer, you can make sure the process is followed legally and procedurally.
Up until July 27, 2019: if a tenant fell behind on rent (even by one day), the landlord would give them a “3 Day Notice to Pay or Vacate.” If the tenant couldn’t pay all the rent within 3 days, the landlord could file an eviction lawsuit against them. The landlord did not have to accept partial payment or payment plans.
Previously, once an eviction lawsuit started, most tenants could not stay—even if they could pay the landlord all the back-rent, late fees, and attorney fees that they owed. Now, more tenants will be able to pay back the rent they owe. More tenants will be able to pay to avoid eviction and homelessness.
Previously, landlords could take a tenant’s rent payments and apply them towards other kinds of “non-rent” charges – late fees, disputed repair bills, other kinds of one-time penalties. Now, landlords must apply a tenant’s rent payments towards rent (and some regular, monthly utility payments) first.
Previously, even if a tenant lost an eviction lawsuit by default (because they weren’t able to respond in time or because they were not able to show up), the landlord could still collect attorneys’ fees from them through an eviction judgment.
A landlord still must use “due diligence” to personally hand eviction papers to a tenant in person at home. Previously, if that didn’t work, the landlord had to get a judge’s permission to serve eviction papers by taping on the door and mailing. Now, after 3 diligent attempts (over 2 days) to serve a tenant in person, some landlords may be able to post and mail eviction papers without a judge’s permission.
Tony Swartz is an experienced lawyer in Washington State. He has handled, start to finish, over 10,000 criminal cases. He has also dealt with various types of civil cases, including administrative law hearings, Superior Court cases, District Court cases, and more. He also has advised clients in transactional matters spanning topics such as business law, nonprofit law, and property law.