Washington Eviction Process

The information on the page is based on the laws of the state of Washington. Even in Washington local laws vary. The information on this website is not a substitute for legal advice about your circumstances. 

The Eviction Notice

The eviction process, with few exceptions, begins with a notice. The most common include: for non-payment of rent, a notice-to-pay-or-vacate; for failure to comply with a term of the lease, a notice-to-comply-or-vacate; for waste or nuisance a three-day-quit-notice; or for month-to-month tenancies a “20-day” notice to terminate a tenancy. Eviction notice forms may be downloaded for free.

While the landlord may serve more than one type of notice, this will cause problems if the notices are inconsistent. For example, a landlord should not serve a nuisance notice in combination with other notices. Consult an attorney if unsure which notices to serve.

Initiating the Eviction Litigation – The Summons and Complaint

If the tenant fails to comply with the notice, the next step in the eviction is to initiate litigation. This is done by serving the tenant with a summons and complaint. The tenant must answer the complaint by the summons deadline. Because the landlord is a party to the action, the landlord may not serve the summons and complaint.

Default or a Show Cause Hearing


If there is no response to the summons and complaint relief may be obtained from the court by default without notice to the tenant.


Show Cause Hearing

If the tenant answers or appearance in the action a hearing is required. The tenant must be given notice of the hearing.  In many counties tenants are represented by volunteer attorneys.

The landlord or property manager must attend the hearing with the landlord attorney.

The Sheriff

After the writ of restitution is obtained, whether by default or at the show cause hearing, the sheriff will serve it. The tenant will have a deadline to vacate, calculated by the sheriff per landlord-tenant law  based on the date the sheriff served the writ.

If the tenant does not vacate the premises the landlord must arrange for a physical eviction with the sheriff.