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WashingtonLawHelp.orgWashington LawHelp

My Landlord Just Gave me a 20-Day (or 60-Day) Notice to Terminate

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project LSC Funded
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If you rent the place where you live and you got a 20-Day (or 60-Day) Notice to Terminate from your landlord, learn what that is and what you should do about it. #6355EN


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I live in Washington state, should I read this?

Yes, if you rent the place where you live and you just got a 20-Day Notice to Terminate from your landlord (or a 60-Day Notice to Terminate).

No, if you own the mobile home you live in, and rent the lot. Instead, read My Landlord Just Threatened to Evict Me from my Manufactured/Mobile Home Park and talk to a lawyer right away. Contact information is below.


*COVID-19 Update!  Eviction law is changing quickly. There are temporary bans and changes to how courts handle evictions. Things may be different depending on where you live. Get the latest information and learn about help for evictions in your area at WashingtonLawHelp.org:  Coronavirus (COVID-19): There are only a few reasons your landlord can evict you right now


What will I learn by reading this?

  • What this notice is

  • What to do if you get this notice from your landlord

  • Where to get legal help

*You can find all the fact sheets we link to here at WashingtonLawHelp.org.


What is a 20-Day (or 60-Day) Notice to Terminate?

A 20-Day Notice to Terminate (or 60-Day) is a notice from your landlord that you have to vacate the property within 20 days. Tenants will usually get this notice on the 10th of the month. A few cities require 60 days' notice (see below).

If you rent in Bellingham, Vancouver, or Tacoma, your landlord must give you a 60-Day Notice. You can read more about this in these factsheets:


Does my landlord need a reason to give me a 20-Day (or 60-Day) Notice to Terminate?

No, if you are on a month-to-month lease outside Seattle. A month-to-month lease means your lease does not say how long you and the landlord agreed that you would live in the place.

When you are a month-to-month tenant, the landlord can end your tenancy whenever the landlord wants, as long as the landlord gives you the proper notice.

But if you rent in Seattle, you have extra protections. The landlord must have a good reason (a "just cause") to terminate a month-to-month tenancy. Read more at Seattle.gov.


Does the termination notice have to be delivered in a certain way?

The landlord (or their employee or another adult) can "personally serve" you at home by handing the notice to you. The landlord can also hand it to another adult or older teenager who lives with you. The landlord can also tape it on your door, but then they must also mail a copy to you. Notice via email, voicemail, or text does not count to start an eviction law suit.

*The notice does not have to be notarized.


What should I do if I get a 20- (or 60-) Day Notice to Terminate from my landlord?


If you are a month-to-month tenant and you get a 20- or 60-Day Notice to Terminate, your landlord wants you to move out by the end of the notice period. If you do not, the landlord may file an eviction lawsuit because you stayed too long. You can try to negotiate for more time, but they do not have to agree.  

*If you live in Seattle, you should get legal help right away. See below.


Can the landlord evict me just by giving me this notice?

No. Washington state does not let landlords evict tenants without following the proper court eviction process. The landlord must give you a proper written "termination" notice before starting an eviction lawsuit. The 20-day (or 60-day) Notice to Terminate is one type of termination notice.

If you are still living in the place after 20 days (or 60 days if you live in Bellingham, Vancouver or Tacoma), the landlord must then start an eviction lawsuit.

The landlord must win an eviction lawsuit and get a judge to sign an order directing the sheriff to evict you.


I am not a month-to-month tenant. I have a written lease agreement for one year. My landlord gave me a 20-Day Notice to Terminate anyway. What should I do?

Talk to a lawyer right away – see below. This could be a defense to an eviction lawsuit.


Get Legal Help

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

Eviction laws and the ways courts are handling the COVID-19 crisis may change quickly and be different depending on where you live. Get the latest information and learn about help for evictions in your area on WashingtonLawHelp.org.

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Last Review and Update: Dec 11, 2020