As the landlord, you own the property, but that doesn’t mean you can throw a tenant out of your property without following proper procedures. If you’re wondering how to evict a tenant from your property in the correct way, this guide should help. If you were to use a property management company in Washington, you wouldn’t have to worry about this process yourself. A professional management firm could handle this unpleasant task for you.

Even if you’re the best landlord you can possibly be, and you screened all your tenants, there could be issues down the road that result in you having to be the unpleasant task of eviction. Some landlords like to talk civilly to the tenant before beginning eviction procedures, and that might be an option for you. Whether the tenant is behind on rent or won’t get rid of a dog you’ve prohibited from the property, you can take the tenant out for coffee where they can’t make a scene.

Politely tell the tenant you need someone in the property who will follow the rules and pay their rent on time. At this time, they’ll need to remove themselves from the property. You could give them a few days to comply before filing for an official eviction. Some tenants don’t want an eviction on their credit report and will comply. If the tenant refuses, it’s time to begin the official process.

How to Evict a Tenant: Notices to Start an Eviction

You can’t start the eviction process without serving the tenant with a notice that you plan to terminate their tenancy. This is an example of the process that could be done by property managers in Washington. It’s something to consider so that you don’t have to do this yourself.

Pay Rent or Quit

This is a notice that is used for tenants who are behind in their rent. They are given a few days to make good on the rent they owe or they are asked to move out of the property.

Cure or Quit

Tenants who are violating parts of the lease like having a pet or unauthorized people in the unit are given cure or quit notices. This means they have a certain amount of time to fix the violation.

Unconditional Quit

With this notice, there doesn’t have to be a reason for the tenant to leave. The landlord wants the person out of the unit, and there’s no cure or remedy for the situation. It might have come to pass because the tenant has continually violated the lease, been a nuisance to neighbors or is engaged in illegal activity.

Terminations Without Cause

With a month-to-month tenant in the unit, they do not have a lease. The landlord can ask the tenant to leave for any reason but will provide the tenant with a 30- or 60-day notice to leave the premises.

Defenses to Eviction

Tenants do not always leave peacefully. If they believe that the landlord has behaved badly or not taken the right procedures during the course of the rental agreement, they could mount a defense against the eviction.

Landlord Didn’t Make Repairs

When a tenant withholds rent, it might be a matter of the landlord not making timely repairs to the unit. When it comes to how to evict a tenant, there are many pitfalls to the process, and the landlord who doesn’t make repairs might be stepping into a bad situation when it comes time for eviction. The landlord is responsible for making the unit livable, which means that there shouldn’t be any hazards or defects. If the landlord hasn’t kept the unit in good condition, the tenant can use this as a means to stay in the unit without having to pay back rent.

Exercising a Legal Right

The landlord cannot evict a tenant for exercising their legal rights. It’s called retaliation, and it’s illegal in Washington. If the tenant has complained to a government agency about a violation by the landlord, they have 90 days where the landlord cannot evict. If the tenant is given the notice to quit and complies with the notice, the landlord can’t evict the tenant too.

How to Evict a Tenant: Final Removal of the Tenant

In Washington, landlords cannot evict a tenant without a court order. The landlord can’t force the tenant out of the unit by turning off electricity or changing the locks. This kind of removal is called “self-help” evictions, and they’re illegal in the state.

Once the landlord has taken the tenant to court and received an order for the tenant’s removal, the tenant will have a certain amount of time to remove their possessions and vacate. The landlord has to wait for the time to expire. If the judge orders the tenant to move immediately, the judgment is given to the proper authorities in law enforcement to remove the tenant.

Abandoned Property

When the tenant has moved without the help of law enforcement, they might have left possessions behind. Unless the tenant has notified you that he or she has vacated the premises, any property left behind has to be stored with the costs paid for by the tenant. The tenant could claim that they weren’t moved out yet, and you could be responsible for the costs of the items that were thrown in the trash.

Removing a tenant through eviction can be a legal nightmare. This is just one of the reasons that many landlords use a management company to deal with tenants from start to finish. How to evict a tenant involves more than this handy guide. There are laws and statutes that govern the procedures. If you don’t know the procedures and laws, it could go badly for you in court against the tenant.