Eviction Process: Tenant Rights Explained

This article is intended for any tenant residing in Washington State. Understanding your rights is important and any illegal action taken against you should be documented & reported to the Tenant's Union. Below is information for both Sagareus tenants and any tenants in Washington State. 

Sagareus Tenants

If you are a current Sagareus tenant and are concerned you may fall short on rent and potentially face an eviction, please contact our office as soon as possible. Sagareus will work with you to either set up a payment plan to get caught up, assist you terminate your lease early, or otherwise assist you prevent an eviction in anyway possible.

Understanding the Eviction Process

The eviction process can be a challenging and confusing time for tenants. It is important to have a clear understanding of the steps involved in order to protect your yourself. The process begins with the landlord serving the tenant with an eviction notice, which outlines the reasons for the eviction and the timeframe for the tenant to respond. 

Once the eviction notice is served, the tenant has the right to contest the eviction in court. This involves attending a hearing where both the landlord and tenant present their arguments. It is important to gather any evidence or documentation that supports your case, such as proof of payment or maintenance requests.

If the court rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant may be required to vacate the premises within a specified timeframe. However, tenants may have the right to appeal the decision or request additional time to find alternative housing. Understanding the eviction process can help tenants navigate this challenging situation and protect their rights.

Exploring Alternative Solutions

Facing eviction can be a stressful experience, but it is important to explore alternative solutions before resorting to legal action. One simple solution is to negotiate with the landlord or property management company. This involves discussing a repayment plan for any outstanding rent or addressing any issues that led to the eviction notice.

Remember, your landlord does not want to evict you! Even if you cannot afford to pay the rent for some reason, talk with your landlord, explain the situation and come up with a solution to solve the problem. You can always move on your own without going through the eviction process to avoid the extra fees and legal difficulties. 

Another option is to seek assistance from local housing agencies or non-profit organizations that provide support to tenants facing eviction. These organizations may offer financial assistance, mediation services, or legal advice to help tenants resolve their eviction cases.

Exploring alternative solutions can help tenants find a resolution that is mutually beneficial for both parties and avoid the stress and expense of eviction.

Know Your Rights as a Tenant

As a tenant facing eviction, it is crucial to know your rights in order to protect yourself. One important right is the right to proper notice. Landlords are required to provide a written notice explaining the reasons for eviction and the timeframe for the tenant to respond. It is important to carefully review this notice and seek legal advice if needed.

Tenants also have the right to contest the eviction in court. This involves attending a hearing and presenting your case to a judge. It is important to gather any evidence or documentation that supports your case, such as proof of payment.

Additionally, tenants have the right to appeal a court's decision or request additional time to find alternative housing. It is important to understand the specific rights afforded to tenants in your jurisdiction and consult with a legal professional if needed.

Your landlord is not allowed to retaliate against you due to unpaid rent or broken lease terms; Illegal landlord activities include:

  • DIY Evictions (RCW 59.18.290). Landlords cannot remove tenants from rental properties without a court order. Evictions must be authorized by the court and executed by a county sheriff, who will oversee the tenant's removal from the property if they haven't vacated voluntarily. Tenants unlawfully evicted from a property have the option to contact the police for assistance and should contact the Tenant Union. 
  • Lockouts (RCW 59.18.290). Landlords are prohibited from denying tenants access to their unit by altering locks, regardless of ongoing legal proceedings such as an unlawful detainer lawsuit or a writ of restitution. If unlawfully locked out, tenants have the right to reclaim access to the unit, albeit at their own expense for any damages caused. In case of illegal eviction, tenants can involve the police and are encouraged to reach out to the Tenant Union for assistance.
  • Utility Shutoff (RCW 59.18.300). In Washington State, deliberately cutting off a tenant's utility services, except for brief interruptions for maintenance purposes with notification, is unlawful. If such an incident occurs, the tenant can seek compensation of up to $100 per day or part of a day they are deprived of utilities, along with any actual damages, through Small Claims Court.
  • Taking or keeping tenant property in lieu of rental payments (RCW 59.18.230). Under the law, it is prohibited for a landlord to seize a tenant's belongings to settle unpaid rent or debts. If such a situation arises, the tenant can send a written request to the landlord for the return of their property. Failure to comply could lead to legal action, allowing the tenant to pursue compensation for the value of the retained property, any actual damages incurred, and potentially receive up to $500 per day for each day they are deprived of their belongings, capped at a maximum of $5000.
  • Terminations of tenancy and rent increases that are retaliatory (RCW.59.240, RCW 59.18.250). Retaliating against tenants who exercise their rights under landlord-tenant law is explicitly forbidden by the landlord-tenant act. If a landlord takes adverse action against a tenant within 90 days of the tenant asserting their rights, it may be deemed illegal retaliation by the court. For instance, serving a notice for nonpayment of rent when the tenant has already paid in full, in response to a repair request, could constitute retaliation. However, proving retaliation can be challenging and might not necessarily halt an eviction lawsuit. It's crucial to gather extensive written documentation. Retaliation can serve as a defense in a written response and can also be raised verbally in court proceedings.

WA State Tenant Resources

King County Rental Assistance 
Pierce County Rental Assistance 

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