Tenants’ Rights: The Place I’m Living in Has Been Condemned
Authored By: Northwest Justice Project
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Find out your options if your landlord has been notified that your rental home will be condemned or will be unlawful to occupy. #6384EN
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Should I read this? +
Yes, if your landlord has gotten notice that the place you are renting to live in will be condemned. This means it is unlawful to live in (occupy). If a fire or code enforcement official or other government agency orders you to move out because of code violations, you may be able to get help moving. RCW 59.18.085.
*This applies to you if you are renting a house, apartment, long-term hotel room, or mobile home.
*It applies even if you have no written rental agreement.
How will I find out my place has been condemned? +
The landlord should give you a 30-Day Notice to Vacate. If 30 days’ notice is not possible, due to the conditions of the place, the landlord must give you as much advance notice as possible.
I got a 30-Day Notice to Vacate because my rental was condemned. Can I get financial help to move? +
Maybe, if the city, county, or other agency:
Issues your landlord a notice of condemnation.
Notifies your landlord that you cannot keep living there because of code violations.
The landlord must pay you relocation assistance if both these are true:
The agency issues a condemnation notice or declares it unlawful for anyone live in your home due to housing, building, and/or fire code violations.
The landlord knew or should have known about the conditions.
How much help can I get? +
You can get whichever of these is more:
Three times your monthly rent.
*The landlord must return your entire security deposit and any prepaid rent.
*The landlord must pay for any losses or expenses (damages) you have from the condemnation, eviction, or displacement, if they are more than the relocation assistance amount.
When will the landlord pay me? +
The landlord must pay the relocation money, security deposit, and any damages within 7 days after the agency sends the landlord the condemnation, eviction, or displacement notice.
How will the landlord pay me? +
The landlord must pay by certified check. The payment must go either to you or to the agency that ordered the condemnation, eviction, or displacement.
The landlord did not pay me within 7 days. Now what? +
The city or county agency may advance you the cost of the relocation assistance. If they will not, send the landlord a letter yourself asking for what the landlord owes you. (See sample letter below.) Send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested and regular mail. Keep a copy of it for yourself.
If the landlord does not pay or respond, you must file in small claims court. Go to the county courthouse. Ask for the small claims department. (See the attached sample language.) Read What is Small Claims Court? to learn more. Our How do I Sue in Small Claims Court? packet has forms you can use and instructions for how to use them.
*Relocation assistance under RCW 59.18.085 does not count as income when you apply to get public assistance or in imposing taxes under state law.
What if the landlord is harassing me? +
Once the government agency notifies your landlord about code violations, and until your landlord either fixes them or gives you relocation assistance, the landlord may not:
Evict, harass, or intimidate you into moving out so that the landlord does not have to pay you relocation assistance.
Reduce your services.
Increase or change your tenant obligations, including raising rent.
What if I think the landlord has violated my rights? +
Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help.