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My Landlord Shut Off My Utilities!

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project - CLEAR Intake Line LSC Funded
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Read this if you are a tenant in Washington state whose landlord just shut off their utilities to try to force them to move. #6318EN

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Who is this for? 

A tenant in Washington state whose landlord just shut off their utilities to try to force them to move.    

What will you learn by reading it? 

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

  • Where to get legal help.

What does the law say? 

RCW 59.18.300 states that it is unlawful for a landlord to intentionally (on purpose) shut off utility service, including water, heat, electricity, or gas, except temporarily to make needed repairs.

*Washington's state laws are called the Revised Code of Washington (RCW). The most important laws affecting tenants and landlords are found in the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (RCW 59.18).

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

You can sue the landlord later (usually in Small Claims Court) for any financial damage you suffered because you were locked out. You can also sue for $100.00 per day that you did not have utilities.  

Can a landlord ever legally cut the utilities?

If your lease states that 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– that is, you left the rental unit and stopped paying rent without telling the landlord – the landlord may shut off the utilities

What can you do if your landlord shuts off the utilities? 

Call the sheriff. Let them know your landlord shut off your utilities without a judge's order.

The sheriff may come out and make the landlord turn the utilities back on. 

Then try to get legal help. 

Get Legal Help

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

 

This publication provides general information concerning your rights and responsibilities.  It is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice. This information is current as of November 2019.

© 2019 Northwest Justice Project — 1-888-201-1014.
(Permission for copying and distribution granted the Alliance for Equal Justice and to individuals for non-commercial purposes only.)

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Last Review and Update: Nov 14, 2019
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