Washington 20 Day Notice to Vacate

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Landlords should use the Washington 20 Day Notice to Vacate to properly terminate a month to month tenancy with out any cause.

Document Last Modified: 12/29/2015

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When he or she, having leased property for an indefinite time with monthly or other periodic rent reserved, continues in possession thereof, in person or by subtenant, after the end of any such month or period, when the landlord, more than twenty days prior to the end of such month or period, has served notice (in manner in RCW 59.12.040 provided) requiring him or her to quit the premises at the expiration of such month or period;

RCW 59.12.040 Service of notice — Proof of service. Any notice provided for in this chapter shall be served either (1) by delivering a copy personally to the person entitled thereto; or (2) if he or she be absent from the premises unlawfully held, by leaving there a copy, with some person of suitable age and discretion, and sending a copy through the mail addressed to the person entitled thereto at his or her place of residence; or (3) if the person to be notified be a tenant, or an unlawful holder of premises, and his or her place of residence is not known, or if a person of suitable age and discretion there cannot be found then by affixing a copy of the notice in a conspicuous place on the premises unlawfully held, and also delivering a copy to a person there residing, if such a person can be found, and also sending a copy through the mail addressed to the tenant, or unlawful occupant, at the place where the premises unlawfully held are situated. Service upon a subtenant may be made in the same manner: PROVIDED, That in cases where the tenant or unlawful occupant, shall be conducting a hotel, inn, lodging house, boarding house, or shall be renting rooms while still retaining control of the premises as a whole, that the guests, lodgers, boarders, or persons renting such rooms shall not be considered as subtenants within the meaning of this chapter, but all such persons may be served by affixing a copy of the notice to be served in two conspicuous places upon the premises unlawfully held; and such persons shall not be necessary parties defendant in an action to recover possession of said premises. Service of any notice provided for in this chapter may be had upon a corporation by delivering a copy thereof to any officer, agent, or person having charge of the business of such corporation, at the premises unlawfully held, and in case no such officer, agent, or person can be found upon such premises, then service may be had by affixing a copy of such notice in a conspicuous place upon said premises and by sending a copy through the mail addressed to such corporation at the place where said premises are situated. Proof of any service under this section may be made by the affidavit of the person making the same in like manner and with like effect as the proof of service of summons in civil actions. When a copy of notice is sent through the mail, as provided in this section, service shall be deemed complete when such copy is deposited in the United States mail in the county in which the property is situated properly addressed with postage prepaid: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That when service is made by mail one additional day shall be allowed before the commencement of an action based upon such notice. RCW 59.18.375 may also apply to notice given under this chapter.

WARNING: SEATTLE: If your rental property is located inside the Seattle city limits, you must comply with Seattle's "Just Cause Ordinance". You may only issue a 20 day notice under very specific conditions in the City of Seattle.

IMPORTANT: Landlords need to check their local laws for any deviations or differences from the state laws, especially in the larger cities.

In the state of Washington, there are specific procedures to follow in order to terminate a month to month tenancy. Unless you are ending a tenancy in Seattle, there is no cause needed to terminate a month to month arrangement. This means that there needs to be no reason at all to end the lease. However, proper notice must be served to the tenant who holds possession of the rental unit, and it must be provided to that tenant AT LEAST twenty days prior to the next time rent is due.

For instance, JOE TENANT (fictitious name) lives at 45 Main St in Apartment 12. You, the landlord, wish to have the property back so that your mother-in-law may live there. JOE TENANT is on a month-to-month lease or tenancy where his rent is due to be paid on or before the first of each month. His next rent due is June 1st. You must provide JOE TENANT the 20-day notice on or before June 11th. This fulfills the notice requirement of at LEAST twenty days.

Once the tenant receives the notice, he must move out of the apartment or home he rents from you before the expiration of the 20-day period. If the tenant does not move, then off to the local courthouse you go to file the necessary paperwork to have your tenant forcibly removed. A landlord should never take it upon himself to use illegal measures such as changing the locks, shutting off utilities or anything that could be construed as removing the tenant by illicit force, hence the word illegal. Not following specific legal procedures and going through the court to evict a tenant in Washington can put a Washington landlord in a bad situation.

This notice can be provided to the tenant by either handing it to him personally, leaving it with someone “of age” at the rental unit plus sending it first-class mail, or posting it in an obvious space outside of the property.

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