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Seattle Just Cause Eviction

Seattle residential tenants may be evicted only for reasons set out in the just cause evictions ordinance.

Note that unless the tenant violates a 3-day Notice to Pay Rent or Vacate, a 10-day Notice to Comply or Vacate, or a 3-day Notice to Vacate for Nuisance, the tenant must be month-to-month. A Seattle residential tenant even though month-to-month cannot be evicted absent just cause.

The just cause eviction ordinance does not give a Seattle residential landlord the right to break a lease. A tenant who is current on rent but has habitually failed to pay rent and is under an unexpired lease cannot be evicted in Seattle, absent some other just cause. Likewise, if a Seattle residential landlord wishes to move back into their rental property, but the tenant has an unexpired lease–the landlord cannot break the lease, and must wait until the lease term ends.

There is no ending a tenancy in Seattle with a notice terminating the tenancy (“20-day Notice”) absent just cause.  Note that some just cause situations require more than twenty days notice. Some just cause situations require 90 days notice. See below, or contact an attorney.

Rental agreement terms that waive Seattle just cause eviction requirement are not enforceable.

Also, just cause to issue a 20-day notice does not give the landlord a right to break a lease. If the landlord want to move into the rental property, for instance, and the tenant has an unexpired lease then the tenant is entitled to remain in the property through the end of the lease term.

Tenants must pay the rent and comply with the lease terms, just as outside Seattle.

Any Seattle residential tenant may be evicted for:

1. Failure to comply with a 3-day Notice to Pay Rent or Vacate, a 10-day Notice to Comply or Vacate, or a 3-day Notice to Vacate for Waste or Nuisance.

A month-to-month Seattle residential tenant may be evicted for:

2. Habitual failure to pay rent, defined as causing the landlord to notify the tenant of late rent four or more times in a 12 month period.

3. Habitual failure to comply with the rental agreement terms, defined as causing the landlord to serve three or more 10-day Notices to Comply or Vacate in a 12 month period.

4.  The landlord seeks possession so the landlord or an immediate family member may occupy the rental unit as his or her primary residence.  The landlord must give 90 days notice. The termination date must be the last day of a rental period. The landlord is presumed to have violated this provision if the landlord or a member of his or her immediate family do not reside in the premises for 60 consecutive days within the 90 days following the tenant vacating the premises.

5. The landlord intends to sell a single family residence. The landlord must give 90 days notice. The termination date must be the last day of a rental period. The landlord violates the Seattle just cause eviction ordinance if reasonable attempts are not made to sell the property within 30 days after the tenant has vacated.

The landlord is presumed to not have intended to sell the property if

  1. the landlord fails within 30 days of the tenant vacating to, at a reasonable price, either list the property with a real estate agent or advertise the property.
  2. the landlord removes the property from the market, rents to someone other than original tenant or otherwise indicates an intention not to sell.

6. The tenant’s occupancy is conditioned upon employment on the property and the employment relationship is terminated.

7. The landlord seeks to do substantial rehabilitation in the building. Before terminating the tenancy the landlord must obtain a tenant relocation license and at least one permit necessary for the rehabilitation.

8. The landlord seeks to demolish the building, or convert to another use. Before terminating the tenancy the landlord must obtain a tenant relocation license and a permit to demolish.

9. The landlord seeks to discontinue unauthorized use of a housing unit. The landlord is required to pay relocation assistance.

10. The landlord seeks to reduce the number of individuals in a rental unit to comply with legal limits on the maximum number of individuals allowed to occupy one dwelling unit. The landlord must give 30 days notice. If the landlord knew and consented to occupancy by a number of individuals that exceeds the legal limit on the number of individuals allowed to reside in a unit, the landlord must pay relocation assistance.

11. The landlord seeks to discontinue use of an accessory dwelling unit after notice of violation of development standards. The landlord must pay relocation assistance.

12. An emergency order that the rental unit be vacated and closed is not complied with.

13. The landlord seeks to discontinue sharing with the tenant the landlord’s own housing unit.

14. The tenant engages in criminal activity, such as drug activity.