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Seattle, WA 98103

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Residential Eviction

As a residential landlord, you know that problem tenants are the biggest expense you face. If you have a tenant who has defaulted in paying rent, is chronically late, antagonizes your other tenants, or damages your property, the costs can add up very fast.

Eviction is often the best remedy available to you, which can stop the losses and make the unit available for a new and more reliable tenant. However, eviction from residential properties is a complicated legal process, and the law requires that the procedures be followed exactly or the tenant will not be evicted in a timely manner. When you have a problem tenant it is critical to act quickly, and have the help of experienced legal counsel.

Seattle Lawyer for Residential Eviction

Joyce Schwensen is a skilled attorney who represents landlords in King County and Snohomish County. Taking timely and firm action to enforce your rights as a property owner can save you significant time, money and aggravation, and using the services of an experienced real estate attorney will make sure all the complicated legal requirements are met. Joyce Schwensen will advise and represent you every step of the way. To set up a consultation, call Law Offices of Joyce S. Schwensen today at (206) 367-1065.

Joyce Schwensen assists landlords with residential evictions throughout the King and Snohomish County areas, including Seattle, Everett, Bellevue and other locations.


King County Residential Eviction Information Center


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Do Not Just Lock Out Your Tenant

When a tenant fails to pay rent, it may sound tempting to simply change the locks, store or sell the tenant’s belongings, or even cut off the utilities. This is called “self-help.”

No matter what is in the lease, no matter how many chances the tenant has received and no matter how long the rent is past due, it is illegal in Washington State for a residential landlord to take any of these actions. As a landlord you should never resort to “self-help” as it can end up costing a lot of money and creating many new problems. It is much smarter and safer to hire an experienced eviction attorney to guide you as to your legal rights and help you pursue your legal remedies.


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“Just Cause” in Seattle

Under Seattle Municipal Code 22.206.160 C, a landlord must have "just cause" to evict a tenant. There are 18 specific reasons for evicting a tenant that are allowable under this city ordinance, and if one of these reasons does not apply you cannot evict your tenant. Examples of the allowable reasons for evicting a tenant under the Seattle Municipal Code are:

  • Failure to comply with a three-day notice to pay rent or vacate
  • Habitually failing to pay rent, to the extent that the landlord has sent written notice of late rent four or more times in a 12-month period
  • Failure to comply with a 10-day notice to comply with a material term of the lease or vacate
  • Habitually failing to comply with terms of the lease so that the landlord has sent three 10-day notices in a 12-month period
  • Engaging in certain criminal activity on the premises, including drug-related activity or any crime that "substantially affects" the health and safety of you or other tenants

The law also makes allowances for evicting tenants if you seek to change the use of your property, including if you wish to demolish it, convert it to a co-op, move into it yourself, or make it available for family members.

It is important to realize that the law does not allow a landlord to simply not renew a lease at the end of its term if he or she wants the tenants to vacate. And the landlord is not allowed to raise the rent so dramatically and so fast that the tenant effectively has no choice but to move out. The landlord must allow the tenant to remain there on a month-to-month basis as long as they pay the rent and abide by the material terms of the lease.

If you own residential rental property in the City of Seattle, it is important that you have an experienced attorney to advise you on the limitations and requirements of the Seattle Municipal Code.


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Legal Proceedings in an Eviction

The specific steps involved in an eviction depend on the reason the tenant is being evicted. The most common reason is the failure to pay rent. It is often tempting to give the tenant more time to come up with the rent before beginning eviction proceedings. However, the eviction process can take weeks or months, so it is advisable to begin eviction proceedings right away if your tenant misses rent or violates the rental agreement, so that the time needed to complete the eviction can be running while you continue to work with the tenant. If the tenant is able to pay, you can stop the proceeding, but you at least won’t find yourself already out a month or two of rent before you even begin the legal process.

Eviction requires properly served notice. There are many mistakes a landlord can make that may slow down or halt the proceedings, such as taking partial payment in some cases. Your best bet is to have skilled legal counsel advising you.


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Finding the Best King or Snohomish County Attorney for a Residential Eviction

Do not attempt to act alone if you need to evict a tenant. Making a mistake could violate one of the many rights tenants have under the Washington State Residential Landlord Tenant Act, the Seattle Municipal Code, or other applicable laws. Joyce Schwensen is a Seattle residential eviction lawyer who can advise you. Call today at (206) 367-1065 to schedule a consultation.

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