My Landlord Just Gave me a 20-Day Notice

If you rent the place where you live and you got a 20-Day Notice from your landlord, learn what that is and what you should do about it. #6355EN

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Yes, if you rent the place where you live and the landlord just gave you a 20-Day Notice to Vacate.

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.

  • What this notice is
  • What to do if you get this notice from your landlord
  • Where to get legal help

It is a warning from your landlord that they want you to move out. Tenants will usually get this notice on the 10th of the month before your rental agreement ends (expires).

Your landlord can give you a 20-Day Notice only in certain situations:

  • You and the landlord share a dwelling unit (house or apartment), kitchen or bathroom.
  • The landlord believes you have made unwanted sexual advances towards or sexually harassed the property owner, a manager, or another tenant, in violation of the lease.
  • The landlord believes you have harassed the landlord, an employee or another tenant on the basis of race, gender or another protected status.

A landlord who believes they have one of the reasons listed immediately above to give you this notice must give it to you before the end of the rental term, if you have a lease or rental agreement, or before the end of the rental period, if you are renting month to month, for example.

Yes. Your landlord (or their employee or another adult) can "personally serve" you at home by handing you the notice.

The landlord can also hand it to another adult or older teenager living with you. If your landlord does this "substitute service," your landlord must also send a copy of the notice to you.  

If the landlord tries but fails to have you personally served, the landlord can then "serve" the notices by taping them on your door, but then they must also mail a copy to you.

No. A 20-Day Notice that is sent by text, voicemail, email, or in person is not a proper notice. It does not start the eviction process.


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 Notice is one type of this notice.

If you are still living in the place after 20 days, the landlord must then start an eviction court case. The landlord does this by giving you official court papers called a "Summons" and "Complaint." These papers may require you to send a response to your landlord or their lawyer.

The landlord 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.

My landlord gave me a 20-Day Notice. We do not share a dwelling unit, kitchen or bathroom. The notice does not accuse me of harassment. I asked the landlord why I got this notice. He says he just wants me to move.

Talk to a lawyer right away. See contact information below. This could be a defense to an eviction lawsuit.

If you want to fight the eviction court case, talk to a lawyer right away. You will need to be able to prove your case in court. This means giving the court evidence proving you did not harass the other tenant. 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.

* Read Getting Ready for a Court Hearing or Trial to get an idea of what you will need to do to fight the eviction in court.

Get Legal Help

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

Download | Printer-friendly PDF

Last Review and Update: May 04, 2023
Was this information helpful?
Back to top