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WashingtonLawHelp.orgWashington LawHelp

My Landlord Shut Off My Utilities!

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project LSC Funded
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Find out what you can do if your landlord just shut off your utilities to try to force you to move. #6318EN

Contents

Please Note:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Should I read this?  +

Yes, you should read this if you rent the place where you live in Washington State. You should read this if your landlord shuts off your utilities to try to force you to move.    

What will I learn by reading this?  +

 

  • What to do if your landlord illegally shuts off your utilities.

  • Where to get legal help.

 

What does the law say?  +

Under state law at RCW 59.18.300, it is unlawful for a landlord to intentionally (on purpose) shut off utility service. This includes water, hot water, heat, electricity, or gas, except temporarily to make needed repairs.

 

In other words, it is illegal for a landlord to shut off your utilities just to try to make you leave.   

You can sue the landlord (usually in Small Claims Court) for $100 for each day that you did not have utilities. Read What is Small Claims Court? and How do I Sue in Small Claims Court?

 

 

Can a landlord ever legally shut off the utilities? +

Maybe. If your lease says you were supposed to pay the utilities, but you did not, the utility company might shut off the utilities.

 

If you have “abandoned” the place—you moved out without telling the landlord and stopped paying rent—the landlord may shut off the utilities.

My landlord shut off my utilities. What can I do?  +

If you can safely turn the utilities back on, such as by flipping back a switch, you should. If only your landlord has access to the utilities, try to get legal help right away. See how to get legal help below.

 

While you are trying to get legal help, you should also write and give the landlord a letter about turning the utilities back on. You can use the form letter below. It might also help to contact your local government agency that is in charge of building codes. Some code enforcement officials might turn the utilities back on for you.

If you need utility assistance, call 2-1-1 or visit their website.

 

Get Legal Help +

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

  • Apply online with CLEAR*Online
  • Facing a legal issue in King County (other than Eviction or Foreclosure)? Call 2-1-1 (or toll-free 1-877-211-9274) weekdays 8:00 am - 6:00 pm. They will refer you to a legal aid provider.
  • Facing a legal issue outside of King County (other than Eviction or Foreclosure)? Call the CLEAR Hotline at 1-888-201-1014 weekdays between 9:15 am - 12:15 pm or apply online.
  • Facing Eviction? Call 1-855-657-8387.
  • Facing Foreclosure? Call 1-800-606-4819.

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Notice Requesting Restoration of Utilities

Last Review and Update: Jul 01, 2021