In Washington State, a 20 day notice to terminate tenancy is used to terminate a month-to-month lease agreement between a landlord and tenant. It is not the same as an eviction but may serve as a precursor to an eviction proceeding if the tenant does not vacate following a 20 day notice. A 20 day notice to terminate cannot be used to terminate the remainder of any other kind of lease agreement, such as a term lease (one year lease, etc).
A common misperception of a 20 day notice is that the tenant must vacate the rental 20 days after the notice has been properly served. This, however, is incorrect. The notice actually indicates that a landlord must serve notice to terminate tenancy AT LEAST 20 days before the end of the rental period, which is typically the end of the calendar month. This means that even if you serve the notice on the first of the month, the tenant will have till the end of that month to vacate.
If a tenant, after having received notice, does not vacate the premises at the end of the rental period, they have become a holdover tenant and the landlord may move forward with an unlawful detainer action. This is the formal legal process through which the landlord may regain possession, also known as an eviction. A landlord may not remove the tenant’s belongings or change the locks if the tenant has not vacated at the end of the rental period. Instead the landlord must first follow the eviction lawsuit process.
In the state of Washington, the general rule is that termination of a month–to-month tenancy does not require a “just cause”. This means that a landlord is not required to give a specific reason when giving a 20 day notice. However, tenants are protected from having their tenancy terminated based on discrimination of any protected class status (race, gender, or disability) or for any retaliatory purposes. The one exception to the general rule is offered by the City of Seattle. An ordinance called the “Just Cause Ordinance” requires that landlords of Seattle properties must give a “Just Cause” when terminating a month-to-month tenancy.
In order to properly serve the 20 day notice the following steps must be followed. A copy of the notice must be provided to each adult occupant, either by personal delivery, personally delivering a copy to a person of suitable age and discretion and mailing a copy to each adult occupant by first class mail, or by placing the notice in a place on the property where they are likely to see it and mailing by first class mail.
To find out more about the eviction process, and to talk with experience eviction attorneys in the Seattle area, contact Dimension Law Group today.
Renton Office: 234 SW 43rd St, Suite MA, Renton, WA 98057
Seattle Office: 1200 Westlake Ave N, Suite #1006, Seattle, WA 98109
Disclaimer: No information in this post is considered legal advice or constitutes an attorney client relationship. The content provided here is for informational purposes only.