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The Sheriff Just Posted an Eviction Order on my Door

Por: Northwest Justice Project

If you got an eviction notice posted on your door, read this to learn about what might happen next (and when) after the sheriff posts an eviction notice on your door, what kinds of “appeals” are allowed after you lose at an eviction hearing, and how to get legal help after you get a sheriff’s notice. #6333EN

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Who is this for?

A tenant who just got a sheriff’s notice posted on their door.

What will you learn by reading it?

  • What might happen next (and when) after the sheriff posts an eviction notice on your door

  • What kinds of “appeals” are allowed after you lose at an eviction hearing

  • How to get legal help after you get a sheriff’s notice

The sheriff’s eviction notice is called a “Writ of Restitution.”

After a landlord wins an eviction lawsuit, the judge will sign an order that allows the sheriff to make sure the tenant physically leaves (and removes all of their possessions).

Then the sheriff will post a “Writ of Restitution” on the tenant’s door. The “Writ” will have a deadline for the tenant to move out before the sheriff comes back and allows the landlord to enter into the unit and remove all of the tenant’s property (often putting it all on the nearest sidewalk).       

After the “Writ of Restitution” is posted on the door, the sheriff must give the tenant at least 3 days to move out. Sometimes, the tenant will have a more than 3 days to move out, but rarely will they have more than a week. Often, the “Writ” will say the deadline to move is at 11:59 p.m. on a certain day, but usually the sheriff won’t actually come back at midnight (but will come early the next morning).

Is there any way to stop the sheriff from coming back?

Your legal options depend on what happened in the eviction lawsuit. Some of them are very difficult without a lawyer. Try to get legal help as soon as possible.

If you went to the eviction hearing and lost:

Most of the time, the sheriff posts the Writ of Restitution after a tenant loses at an eviction hearing. If you went to a hearing and lost, you may wonder if you can “appeal” the eviction lawsuit. Your legal options depend on what happened at the hearing and also whether you were evicted because you owed rent or not.

If you were evicted because you owed rent:

If you were evicted only because you owed back-rent, you may be able to “reinstate your lease” and stay in your home if you can pay back the landlord what you owe and then file a “Motion to Reinstate” with the court.

You may also be able to file another kind of motion and ask for a payment plan, so you can pay back the money over 3 months. 

These motions may be difficult to do on your own, so try to get legal help (see below).

If you can pay off the judgment in one lump sum, you may ask the judge to “reinstate your lease”:

If you were evicted only because you owed back-rent, you may be able to “reinstate your lease” and stay in your home if you can pay back the landlord what you owe and then file a “Motion to Reinstate” with the court.  See RCW 59.18.410(2).

First, you’ll have to quickly get all the money together to pay back the landlord. This will probably include back-rent, plus a late fee, plus court costs, plus some attorneys’ fees.

Second, you will have to file a formal request to the court, called a Motion to Reinstate.” (See the sample form below).

Call 2-1-1 (or 206-461-3610 for TTY) to ask about agencies in your area that give emergency help to cover rent.

If you have all the money listed in the eviction judgment (rent + fees + court costs + attorneys’ fees), contact the landlord (or landlord’s lawyer) to let them know you want to pay to reinstate the lease and you plan to file a “Motion to Reinstate.”  

After you pay the landlord (or if you offer all the money and the landlord refuses to accept it), you can file your Motion to Reinstate at the courthouse. Ask the court clerk how to schedule a hearing in front of a judge about your Motion. If the judge approves your motion, the sheriff’s notice should be stopped and you should get to stay. You may have to give the sheriff a copy of the judge’s order. You will then have to keep paying all your rent on time every month, or the landlord may evict you again.

Filing a Motion to Reinstate may be difficult. Try to get legal help as soon as possible (see contact information below).

If you need more time to pay the landlord, you may ask the judge for a payment plan

If you were evicted only because you owed back-rent, you may be able to ask for a payment plan, through a formal request to the judge, called a “Motion to Stay the Writ of Restitution and for a Payment Plan.”  See RCW 59.18.410(3) .  

RCW 59.18.410(3) explains what kinds of factors the judge can consider when deciding whether you should get a payment plan. 

Be prepared to explain to the judge:

  • Why you fell behind in rent

  • How soon you could pay the back-rent

  • What kind of payment plan might work

  • Whether you have fallen behind before

  • What kind of tenant you are

  • How much hardship you will suffer if you are evicted.

The judge may ask about your income, bank accounts, and other facts about your life. The judge may order you to pay over 3 months, and may set a strict schedule on when to make payments to the landlord. 

The judge may also allow you to get financial help from a charity or a government agency that can give or lend you money to pay your landlord.

Call 2-1-1 (or 206-461-3610 for TTY) to ask about agencies in your area that give emergency help to cover rent.  You may have to bring a written offer of assistance from the agency to the court when you file your Motion asking for a payment plan. 

If you were evicted over lease violations or for staying too long:

If the landlord brought an eviction lawsuit because they claimed you were breaking the rules or because you stayed too long, you won’t have the option to “reinstate the lease” as described above. The Motion to Reinstate below is only for tenants evicted over rent.

If you went to the hearing, but you want another hearing:

Many times after an eviction hearing, tenants feel like they didn’t get time to explain their side of things or that they didn’t get a good chance to show all the evidence they brought with them. Often, these tenants would like to “appeal” the case and get another hearing in front of a new judge.

In Washington, it is possible to file a formal request (called a “motion”) asking for a new hearing. However, filing these kinds of motions is rare, risky and can be difficult without a lawyer. Not only that, filing these kinds of motions does not automatically stop the sheriff from coming back!

First, it’s possible to file a “Motion for Reconsideration” under Washington Court Civil Rule 59. This kind of motion is best in those very rare circumstances where new evidence comes up after the first hearing. You must read Washington Court Rule 59 to see if you have any grounds to ask for “reconsideration”

The second is called a “Motion for Revision.” You can only ask for “Revision” if your first hearing was decided by a “commissioner” (not a judge). See RCW 2.24.050 and your county court’s local rules.

The deadline to file these motions is 10 days after the judgment in the first hearing.

If a judge decides that you brought these kinds of motions just to delay the eviction and you lose, you may end up owing more money to the landlord and the sheriff will come back to evict you. Try to get legal help if you want to try to “appeal” and get a new eviction hearing.

If you did not go to the eviction hearing:

If you didn’t know about the lawsuit and didn’t even get to go to an eviction hearing, you may be able to file a formal request to the court (called a “Motion to Stay and Vacate”).

The Motion to Stay and Vacate is best for people who have a very good reason why they did not go to the eviction hearing and also have a good defense to the eviction lawsuit. If you don’t have a good defense, it can be risky. You may end up owing more money to the landlord if you try to file a Motion to Stay and Vacate and lose again.

If you cannot go back to court, but just need more time to move:

You can still negotiate with your landlord for more time to move, even after the sheriff has posted the Writ of Restitution. But usually, by the time the eviction suit has ended in this way, the landlord won’t want to negotiate anymore.  

The “Writ of Restitution” will include a form you can fill out to formally ask your landlord to store your possessions if you do not have time to move them before the sheriff comes back. You have to give this form to your landlord within 3 days after the Writ is posted. However, the landlord is allowed to charge you money for storing your stuff. See RCW 59.12.312.

If you want to know when the sheriff will come back to enforce the Writ of Restitution, you can call the sheriff’s department. Sometimes they will let you when if they’ve been scheduled to come out.

*Washington’s state laws are called the Revised Code of Washington (RCW). The most important laws affecting tenants are found in the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (RCW 59.18) and in the Unlawful Detainer statutes (RCW 59.12).

Get Legal Help

Outside King County: Call the CLEAR Hotline at 1-888-201-1014 weekdays from 9:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.

In King County: Call 211 for referral to an appropriate legal services provider Monday through Friday from 8:00 am – 6:00 pm.

Persons 60 and Over may call CLEAR*Sr at 1-888-387-7111 (statewide). Deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired callers can call CLEAR or 211 (or toll-free 1-877-211-9274) using a relay service of their choice.

Apply online with CLEAR*Online - nwjustice.org/get-legal-help

211 and CLEAR will provide a free interpreter.

This publication provides general information concerning your rights and responsibilities. It is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice. This information is current as of August 2019.

© 2019 Northwest Justice Project — 1-888-201-1014.

(Permission for copying and distribution granted the Alliance for Equal Justice and to individuals for non-commercial purposes only.)

Última revisión y actualización: Aug 09, 2019
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