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How to Evict a Tenant in Washington (7 Steps)

There are 4 different types of notices for landlords wishing to proceed with evicting a tenant in Washington, each suitable for its own cause for eviction — illegal activity, non-compliance, non-payment of rent, and month-to-month. Each form has a requisite notice deadline, in which the tenant is directed to either remedy the violation (if applicable) or leave the property. If neither has happened after notice has been properly delivered and the deadline has passed, a landlord may then file a complaint with their local Superior Court.

Laws – Chapter 59.18 RCW; Chapter 59.12. Forcible Entry and Forcible and Unlawful Detainer

How to Evict

Step 1: Send an Eviction Notice 

Landlords may begin the eviction process by giving the tenant one of the following forms which should correspond with the landlord’s reason for eviction.

  • Illegal Activity (3-Day Notice to Quit): Committing waste (damages) upon the property or carrying on any unlawful business on the property is subject to eviction. Tenants will be given notice of their violation and 3 days’ notice to quit.1
  • Non-Compliance (10-Day Notice to Quit): A tenant can be evicted if they fail or neglect to keep or perform any term in their lease agreement. If this happens, the landlord must deliver notice of their breach and the tenant will be given 10 days to perform the conditions outlined for curing the violation.2
  • Non-Payment of Rent (14-Day Notice to Quit):  A 14-day notice to quit may be served for unpaid rent as soon as rent is past due.3
  • Month-to-Month (20-Day Notice to Quit): A month-to-month tenancy can be ended when either the tenant or landlord gives 20 days’ written notice of their intent to end the agreement. State law applies this same requirement to any property that is leased for an “indefinite time.”4

Step 2: Wait to Hear from the Tenant 

If the tenant remains on the rental property after the expiration of the eviction notice, the landlord may then proceed to the Superior Court where they will file a complaint. It’s recommended that landlords attempt to solve their grievance out of court as court proceedings can be both lengthy and costly. Trying to remedy issues with the tenant is sometimes possible with adequate communication.

Step 3: File in Court 

  • Average Processing Time: 3 weeks5
  • Filing Fees: $306
  • Where to File: Superior Court

Forms to File:

  • Complaint for Unlawful Detainer
  • Eviction Summons
  • Order to Show Cause
  • Answer
  • Writ of Restitution

Step 4: Serve the Tenant 

Service of the summons and complaint will be completed by the sheriff, a deputy of the sheriff, or a person at least 18 years of age who is not a party to the case. They will either serve the tenant personally, or, if the tenant can’t be reached in person, a copy of the summons will be left with a person on the property of “suitable age.” If neither of those options is successful, a copy may be sent by first-class mail as well as another copy left at the address of the rental property.7

Step 5: Attend a Hearing 

The tenant must file an Answer with the court if they wish to contest the eviction. In doing so, the tenant will list any defenses and a hearing date will be scheduled.8 

If the tenant fails to file an answer with the court or does file an answer but fails to appear on the date of their hearing, the court will issue a default judgment and possession of the property awarded to the landlord. 

Step 6: Obtain a Writ of Restitution 

A ruling in favor of the landlord will result in a writ of restitution being issued. For evictions for non-payment of rent, the writ will be executed no sooner than five days after it has been issued.9 Writs will be executed after three days from the date of judgment in non-compliance evictions.10

Step 7: Repossess the Property 

Once the sheriff receives the writ of restitution, they will serve the tenant final notice that they must leave or be forcibly removed from the property. 

For unpaid rent agreements, the tenant and landlord come to a final payment agreement, including partial payment, that may maintain the lease and void the writ. However, written proof of the agreement must be provided to the sheriff, and it is the tenant’s responsibility to do so.10

Video: Evictions in Washington


  1. § 59.12.030(5) 
  2. § 59.12.030(4)
  3. § 59.12.030(3)
  4. § 59.12.030(2)
  5. https://tenantsunion.org/rights/eviction-timeline#:~:text=Evictions%20in%20Washington%20State%20generally,to%20non%2Dpayment%20of%20rent.
  6. https://www.courts.wa.gov/programs_orgs/pos_bja/index.cfm?fa=pos_bja.display&fileid=cftf/AppendI
  7. http://www.courts.wa.gov/court_rules/?fa=court_rules.display&group=sup&ruleid=supcr04#:~:text=CR%204%20PROCESS%20(a)%20Summons,is%20signed%20on%20the%20summons.
  8. https://tenantsunion.org/rights/eviction-timeline#:~:text=Evictions%20in%20Washington%20State%20generally,to%20non%2Dpayment%20of%20rent.
  9. § 59.18.410
  10. § 59.18.390