My Landlord Just Threatened to Evict Me
Authored By: Northwest Justice Project
If you rent the place where you live and your landlord just threatened to evict you, read this to learn what to do. #6349EN
- Should I read this?
- Can my landlord evict me just by sending a text or verbally threatening me?
- When can my landlord start an eviction lawsuit?
- How does the legal eviction process start?
- What is a proper termination notice?
- Does the termination notice have to be delivered in a certain way?
- Get Legal Help
*Read this only if you live in the state of Washington.
* 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 Coronavirus (COVID-19): There are only a few reasons your landlord can evict you right now
Should I read this?
Yes, if you rent the place where you live and you just got a verbal threat, text message, or written eviction notice from your landlord.
No, if you live in a mobile home park and own your home but rent the lot. In that case, read My landlord Just Threatened to Evict Me from My Manufactured/mobile Home Park and see "Get Legal Help" contact information below.
Can my landlord evict me just by sending a text or verbally threatening me?
No. Washington state does not let landlords evict tenants without following the proper court eviction process. Your landlord must win an eviction lawsuit against you and then get a judge to sign an order directing the sheriff to evict you.
When can my landlord start an eviction lawsuit?
Your landlord can start an eviction lawsuit only for certain good reasons. For example, if you get behind on rent, break other terms of the lease agreement, or stay longer than the term (length) of the lease without the landlord's permission.
How does the legal eviction process start?
Your landlord must give you a proper written "termination notice" before starting an eviction lawsuit. Verbal threats, phone calls, voicemails, emails, and text messages are not proper termination notices.
What is a proper termination notice?
It depends on why the landlord is trying to evict you.
If you fall behind in rent, your landlord must give a 14-Day Notice to Pay or Vacate. Read My Landlord Just Gave Me a 14-Day Notice to Pay or Vacate.
If your landlord believes you are breaking other rules in your lease, your landlord must give you a 10-Day Notice to Comply or Vacate. Read My Landlord Just Gave Me a 10-Day Notice to Comply or Vacate.
If you are renting month-to-month (no time limit) in most of Washington, a landlord can give you a Notice to Terminate 20 days before the end of the rental period for any reason. Usually, tenants will get this on the 10th of the month. (A few cities require 60 days' notice, such as Bellingham, Seattle, Tacoma, and Vancouver.) Read My landlord Just Gave Me a 20-Day Notice to Terminate.
If your landlord thinks you are engaging in extreme behavior, such as destroying the property, or illegal activity on the property, the landlord can give you a 3-Day Notice to Quit. Read My Landlord Just Gave Me a 3-Day Notice to Quit and get legal help right away.
These "termination notices" are warnings from the landlord. If you ignore them, the landlord may file an eviction lawsuit against you and it can go on your record.
In all these cases, you should try to get legal help right away. See contact information at the end of this document.
Does the termination notice have to be delivered in a certain way?
Yes. 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 who lives with you. The landlord can also tape it on your door, but then they must also mail you a copy.
A verbal termination notice in person, by phone or by voicemail, or a written notice by text or email, is not proper and does not start an eviction lawsuit.
*The termination notice does not have to be notarized.
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.
Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help.