We at Genesis are among the few law firms offering eviction (unlawful detainer) services to landlords in the Everett, Snohomish County region. Evictions, unlike many monetarily comparable legal disputes, require a hyper-technical understanding of surprisingly nuanced statutes and case law. Moreover, the law instructs judges to strictly construe the Washington Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (RLTA) against landlords and in favor of tenants, meaning a landlord’s seemingly small misstep can result in having to start the whole eviction process over again. Genesis has the knowledge to help you navigate the system quickly, so you can remove problem tenants and replace them with someone who pays rent on time.
Whether you have problems with a tenant not paying rent, damaging your property, or causing trouble with other tenants, we can help you from start to finish. In most circumstances, the first step is to provide your tenant with written notice of their violation, be it a 3-day notice to pay rent or vacate, a 10-day notice to comply or vacate for violating the rules of the lease, or a 20-day notice to terminate a month-to-month tenancy. If the party responds to a 3-day or 10-day notice by paying or complying with the lease the eviction process is completed, unless they tenant has previously been served with three or more of these notices.
However, if the tenant fails to move-out, comply, or pay as the situation requires, the process moves forward preparing a summons and complaint and serving the tenant with them. Service of the summons and complaint must be completed by an adult who is not a party to the eviction action, and comply with RCW 4.28.080. At this time, the landlord can choose to file the complaint with the court, or to serve it without filing with the court. Holding off on filing the complaint can sometimes provide an incentive for the tenant to move out quickly and also make it easier for them to find a new space to rent – often times enabling them to move-out more quickly. On the other hand, waiting to file the summons and complaint can also slow the process down and could mean extra days before you are able to rent a unit to a new tenant.
After service, the next step is to set a show-cause hearing with the court. Typically, if the landlord can show that rent is owing or the lease was breached a judge or commissioner will issue a writ authorizing the sheriff to supervise the eviction. However, if there is a material question of fact, the case may be set for trial so each side may present their case, at which point a writ may be issued. Upon obtaining the writ, the landlord delivers it to the sheriff, along with a bond. The sheriff will then post the writ at the tenant’s unit, which gives the tenant three-days to vacate the unit. It is up to the landlord to schedule the actual eviction time with the sheriff, and to provide the manpower to remove any remaining property (potentially placing it in storage if so requested by the tenant).
While commercial landlord-tenant law does not provide the tenant with all of the protections of the RLTA, the stakes can be much higher, with more valuable properties at stake and the potential for double damages. See RCW 59.12.170. Additionally, questions regarding what to do with leftover property can become difficult in commercial leases.
Contact Genesis for a landlord-tenant attorney located in downtown Everett, Snohomish County. Free Mandarin Chinese interpretation available upon request.