Tenants’ rights: The place I’m living in has been condemned

Read this in: Spanish / Español

Find out your options if your landlord has been notified that your rental home will be condemned or will be unlawful to occupy. #6384EN

Please Note!

If your landlord is threatening to evict you, call the Eviction Defense line at 1-855-657-8387 or apply for help online.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Yes, you should read this if your landlord has gotten notice that the place you are renting to live in will be condemned. This means it is unlawful to live in (to occupy). If a fire or code enforcement official or other government agency orders you to move out because of code violations, you may be able to get help moving.

You can read the state law about this at RCW 59.18.085.

Yes. It applies to you if you are renting a house, apartment, long-term hotel room, or mobile home. It applies even if you have no written rental agreement.

The landlord should give you a 30-Day Notice to Vacate. If 30 days' notice is not possible, due to the conditions of the place, the landlord must give you as much advance notice as possible. You can read the law about this at RCW 59.18.650(2)(h).

Maybe, if the city, county, or other agency gives your landlord a notice of condemnation and notifies your landlord that you cannot keep living there because of code violations.

Generally, the landlord should pay you relocation assistance if the landlord knew or should have known about the conditions. There are some exceptions to this. Talk to a lawyer if you have questions about relocation assistance.


You can get 3 times your monthly rent or $2,000, whichever is more. 

Yes. The landlord must return your entire security deposit and any prepaid rent. 

Yes. The landlord must pay for any damages you have from the condemnation, eviction, or displacement, if the relocation assistance amount doesn't cover them.

The landlord must pay the relocation money, security deposit, and any damages within 7 days after the agency sends the landlord the condemnation, eviction, or displacement notice.

Maybe. The landlord must send payment either to you or to the agency that ordered the condemnation, eviction, or displacement.


The landlord must pay by certified check. 

No. This kind of relocation assistance does not count as income in imposing taxes.

Yes. Relocation assistance does not count as income here either. 

The city or county agency may advance you the cost of the relocation assistance. If they will not, send the landlord a letter yourself asking for what the landlord owes you. (See sample letter.) Send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested and regular mail. Keep a copy of it for yourself. 

If the landlord does not pay or respond, you must file in small claims court. Go to the county courthouse. Ask for the small claims department. (See the sample language.) Read What is Small Claims Court? to learn more. Our How do I Sue in Small Claims Court? packet has forms you can use and instructions for how to use them.

Once the government agency notifies your landlord about code violations, and until your landlord either fixes them or gives you relocation assistance, the landlord may not:

  • Evict, harass, or intimidate you into moving out so that the landlord does not have to pay you relocation assistance.

  • Reduce your services.

  • Increase or change your tenant obligations, including raising rent.

Get Legal Help

Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help. 

Sample Letter and Small Claims Court Statement

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Last Review and Update: Jul 28, 2023
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