Serving Eviction Notices in Washington


The information on the page is based on the laws of the state of Washington. Landlord-tenant law varies by location. Even in Washington, the information on this website is not a substitute for advice about your circumstances.

Notice requirements are strictly construed against the landlord. Even if you can prove the tenant actually received the notice, failure to strictly adhere to the service methods may result in dismissal of the eviction action.

There are only three acceptable means to serve an eviction notice on a tenant.

1. Delivering a copy personally to each adult tenant, OR
2. Substitute service on a some person of suitable age and discretion and mailing a copy to each tenant, OR
3. If neither the tenant nor a person of suitable age and discretion is present then affixing a copy of the notice in a conspicuous place on the premises and mailing a copy to each tenant.

Mailing. Service of eviction notices requires the landlord (or other person serving the eviction notice) to go the property. Mailing is sometimes required in addition to other steps. See above. Mailing alone is never sufficient legal service of an eviction notice. The landlord cannot just mail, courier, fax, text, or email eviction notices.

When mailing is required (see above) regular first class is fine unless a lease or rental agreement requires more.  One day is added by rule before the landlord can take additional actions. Mail the eviction notice from the same county.

Mailing means using the US Postal Service. The statute requires “sending a copy through the mail.” Courts do not consider the landlord placing a copy of the eviction notice in the tenant’s mailbox as “sending a copy through the mail.”

More than one tenant. If there is more than one person living in the property it is important to serve enough copies of the eviction notice for each person. If someone answers the door, hand that person enough copies of the notice for everyone and mail copies separately to each of the other tenants. Likewise if posting a copy, also mail one separately to each tenant.

Posting. Posting is only appropriate after knocking and getting no answer at the door. Notices must be posted in a conspicuous manner. The landlord should not slide the notice under the door or through the mail slot, for example. Instead, the best practice is to post on the front door at eye level.

Failure to comply.  After an eviction notice is property served and the tenant fails to comply, the landlord must initiate the legal eviction process. This is true even if the landlord does not care about collecting money, there was never a written agreement, or the lease has expired. All landlords must go through the eviction process if a tenant (or another resident) refuses to vacate voluntarily. There are no exceptions.