Unlawful Detainers (Evictions) 

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WHAT'S NEW?

In 2021 the Legislature amended the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act and the Unlawful Detainer Act and changed how a landlord can evict a tenant from a home. On November 1, 2021 the State’s pandemic eviction moratorium expired.

A landlord may choose to end a tenancy for non-payment of rent, failure to comply with the lease, desire to sell the property, if the tenant’s use of the property causes waste, nuisance, or unlawful business, and other reasons described in RCW 59.18.650. It is important for landlords to use updated forms that include the changes to the law.

Because the Legislature requires landlords to offer tenants repayment plans, mediation is now required for all evictions that are about non-payment of rent. If the tenant has fallen behind on rent, the landlord must serve a Notice of Mediation in addition to serving a 14-day pay or vacate notice. If the eviction is about rent, the landlord must include a Certificate of Mediation from the Dispute Resolution Center when they file the Summons and Complaint in the Clerk’s office. Mediation is not required for cases that do not involve rent issues.

Low-income tenants are eligible to have an attorney appointed for them. Tenants should contact Northwest Justice Project if they think they could be eligible for an attorney.

WHEN IS MEDIATION REQUIRED

2021-11-03 11_05_10- Opens in new windowMediation is required before any case can be filed in the court if there is a rent dispute. Mediation is not required for cases that do not involve rent issues. The Eviction Resolution Pilot Program (ERPP) requires landlords and tenants to mediate rent disputes before an eviction case can be filed in court. The landlord must give the tenant Notice of Mediation with the 14-day pay or vacate notice. The landlord must also give the Dispute Resolution Center a copy of the Notice of Mediation. 

The Dispute Resolution Center uses the tenant contact information on the Notice of Mediation to reach out to the tenant to offer mediation and help applying for rental assistance. The Dispute Resolution Center works with rental assistance agencies to help the tenant complete applications for rental assistance.

The Dispute Resolution Center arranges meetings between landlords and tenants to negotiate repayment plans. 

The Dispute Resolution Center will give the landlord and tenant a Certificate of Mediation. If the tenant does not respond within 14 days, the Dispute Resolution Center will give the landlord the Certificate and close the case.

WHAT HAPPENS AT THE COURT HEARING?

A judge reviews the notices to make sure they comply with the new law. The judge checks whether mediation was offered to the tenant. The judge will also make sure tenants know about the right to have an attorney appointed for them and may re-schedule the hearing to allow the tenant to be screened for an attorney.

A judge will decide property possession. The judge will consider the evidence and hear live testimony. The judge may decide the hearing needs to be special set to a date when there is time to hear all the evidence.

At the end of the hearing, the judge will decide who can have possession of the property until the case is resolved (either at trial or through a negotiated settlement). Pending trial, the judge may also require a landlord to post a bond or a tenant to pay rent as a condition of temporary possession of the property. 

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE SHOW CAUSE HEARING?

If the judge decides the landlord is entitled to possession pending trial, the judge will sign an Order for a Writ of Restitution. The landlord takes the Order to the Clerk’s office for a Writ of Restitution. The clerk confirms the landlord has posted any bond that was required. The landlord then serves the Writ of Restitution on the Sheriff. The landlord must pay the Sheriff’s fee. The Sheriff serves the Writ and a notice on the tenant. If the tenant does not vacate the property by the deadline stated on the notice, the sheriff will assist the landlord in regaining possession of the property.

If the case has been set for trial, the Court Administrator will send out a trial notice. The parties should confirm the trial according to the instructions on the trial notice. If interpreters are needed, the parties should promptly inform the Court Administrator so interpreters will be available on the trial date.

WHAT IS THE OBJECTIVE OF THE ERPP?

The objective is to bring all parties to the table with the assistance of qualified and trained Eviction Resolution Specialists;

Explore the amount of rent arrears, the current and prospective circumstances of the tenant, the availability of rent and other assistance to cure or partially cure the arrearage;

Discover a range of other options that might resolve the matter in a way that allows the tenant to retain housing (and avoid the need for filing an unlawful detainer action).


VIDEO - UNDERSTANDING THE EVICTION RESOLUTION PILOT PROGRAM (ERPP)

Supreme Court Order