Can I evict a tenant who is in jail?

Asked about 3 years ago - Seattle, WA

We served a 3 Day Pay or Vacate on a tenant who owes $50 for June and has not paid July. We heard later that day from another tenant that the tenant is in jail. I have confirmed that this is true, and he has no set court date and no set release date. The property owner was at the building and met someone who is not on the lease, but staying in the unit. This person said she was trying to help with rent, but nothing has come from her.
Can we evict the tenant for non-payment while he is in jail? Or has the apartment been abandoned? Can we take possession of the unit, change the locks, and get the stragglers out? Nobody except the jailed tenant is on the lease, or has ever paid rent to us.

Attorney answers (1)

  1. Ryan J. Weatherstone

    Contributor Level 15

    Answered . You may evict a tenant who is in jail if they have not paid rent or made arrangements to pay rent. The main issue here is whether or not rent was paid, not necessarily what their current life situation is right now. One thing to bear in mind is that the unauthorized tenant may also require proper notice in any unlawful detainer proceedings. Make sure to include them in the caption on all paperwork since you know they exist, and it does not hurt to provide them with their own copy of the summons and complaint.

    Hiring an attorney for these matters is always recommended.

    This answer is for informational purposes only and should not be construed to establish an attorney client... more

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