I rented an apartment, but things went bad with my roommate, so we had to break the lease...we gave our 20 day notice that we were going to move out on 4/9/2010. all of our belongings are no longer in the apartment....and today i went back to the apartment to find that they have changed the locks...Rent has been paid so the apartment should have been available for us to come and go as we please until the first...I was wondering if i still have to pay the fee for breaking the lease, because in washington state it is illegal for them to change the locks with out giving us notice.
Landlord / Tenant Lawyer
If you paid rent on April 1, you are entitled to the possessory interest in the property until midnight on April 30. You are entitled to any and all attorney fees you incur, for whatever work you have to do to get back into the apartment. This is called a lockout, and it is absolutely, completely prohibited in WA. Your landlord may be found by a court to owe you a LOT of money, and that may well be a set off against any fees you may have incurred for breaking the lease. Adam Karp is in Bellingham, and he understands landlord tenant law and can help you. Interference with a tenancy is arguably a gross misdemeanor. Have you considered contacting the police and advising that you have paid rent and now the locks are changed? Hope this helps. Elizabeth Powell