What are my rights in transitional housing?

Read this in: Spanish / Español
Authored By: Northwest Justice Project

Find out when you can be evicted from and other information about transitional housing programs. #6904EN

Please Note:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

If you live in transitional housing in Washington State, or might try to get into transitional housing in Washington State, read this to learn more about

  • What transitional housing is and

  • What rights you might have in transitional housing.

*Even if you live in transitional housing, or your landlord calls it transitional housing, you are a tenant like any other tenant protected by Washington state's landlord-tenant laws. If you get an eviction notice or court papers, get legal help right away. See Get Legal Help below.

It is rental units, like rooms or apartments, owned or operated by a nonprofit or government agency that provides short-term housing and supportive services to people who are formerly homeless or incarcerated. You might have to qualify to be in the program. These programs have their own rules about who can live there.  Examples: Some are only for people below a certain age. Some take veterans only, or people with disabilities.

The program may have rules you might not see in a traditional landlord-tenant situation. Some examples: you might have to take part in meetings for people recovering from substance abuse. You might have a curfew. There might be limits on who can live with you, or who can visit you and when. You might have to allow regular inspection of your living space.


Someone who works for the program or the landlord can "personally serve" you at home by handing you the notice. They can also hand it to another adult or older teenager living with you. They can also tape it on your door, but then they must also mail a copy to you.

*The notice does not have to be notarized.

*Notice by email, voicemail, or text does not count to start an eviction lawsuit.


No. Washington State does not allow this without following the proper court eviction process. The program or landlord must give you a proper written "termination" notice before starting an eviction lawsuit. The 14-Day Notice, 10-Day Notice, and 30-Day Notice are different types of this notice.

If you are still living in the place after the date on the notice says you have to move out by, the program or landlord can then start an eviction court case. They must win that court case and get a judge to sign an order directing the sheriff to evict you. Only the sheriff can formally evict you or change the locks on the rental.

Read Can the Landlord Do That?


Try to get legal help right away. You need to receive a valid termination notice. See below.


  1. If you want to fight the eviction court case, talk to a lawyer right away. You will need to prove your case in court. This means giving the court evidence proving you did not break the rules. It can also mean having witnesses with personal knowledge about the facts testify. A lawyer can help you with these things. See contact information below.

    Although they must go to court to evict you, it is still a good idea to avoid a court case if you can help it. You cannot be sure of the outcome of the case. An eviction from a court can have long-term negative consequences. A lawyer can also help you try to work out a solution without going to court.
  2. Read the notice or letter you got carefully. A few transitional housing programs may give you the right to ask for a hearing or meeting with the property manager (or program management) before they try to evict you. If your program gives you this right, ask for the hearing or meeting right away. There may be a deadline. You might be able to resolve things without having to go to court. A lawyer might be able to help with the hearing or meeting. 

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

Last Review and Update: Aug 11, 2021
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