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Can a landlord evict a Tenant for illegal activity even if it is not mentioned in the rental agreement?

Tacoma, WA |

I'm renting out a room in my home on a month-to-month basis and have a very informal rental agreement. Can I evict a tenant for creating a waste/nuisance or illegal activity even if it is not specified in the agreement that such activities are forbidden? Also, I am wondering if I give a tenant 20 days notice to move out for whatever reason, and they refuse to move, what is the remedy. Thank you.

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Attorney answers 3

Best Answer

A 20 day notice to terminate a tenancy has to be served twenty days before the end of the rental period that will be the last. February presents its own special problems, because February is a short month. This year is a leap year so it is 29 days. That means you have to personally serve the Notice to terminate tenancy on or before February 9, 2012.

If you accuse your tenant of waste or illegal activity, you are setting up a fight because you have to allege underlying facts not just legal conclusions. All the tenant has to say is "nuh-uh" and you are opening yourself up to taking the matter to trial.

Whereas a 20-day with no reason given is vastly more enforceable and bomb-proof at show cause. Hope this helps. Elizabeth Powell

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Interesting, and thanks to all. I don't actually have a problem with this at the present but want to be well informed in case of future issues.

Elizabeth Rankin Powell

Elizabeth Rankin Powell


Thank you! E Powell


No rental agreement needs to specify that "the tenant shall not murder anyone on the premises" or "the tenant shall not use illegal drugs on the premises."

Furthermore, in the absence of explicit provisions in a rental agreement, the provisions of the WA Residential Landlord-Tenant Act will control.

Your rental likely is under the RLTA. As a landlord, you need to be familiar with the statutes. The statutes are at . You should look at RCW 59.18.130 (Duties of tenant).

When a landlord cannot cajole a tenant into leaving, the landlord will need to go to court to ask the court to sign an order for the sheriff to remove the tenant from the property. WA does not allow landlords to do self-help eviction by such actions as removing the tenant's properties, turning off the utilities, or changing locks.

Because the unlawful detainer action must follow statutory procedures, you should review your specific facts with your attorney unless you can or will spend the time to learn the laws and procedures.


Specification in the Ageement is not required. You can evict for waste or nuisance or unlawful business activities conducted on the premises.
You can also evict for drug related activity, gang related activity, unlawful use of firearems and assault.
20 Day Notice must be properly served more than 20 days before the end of the rental period (end of month typically). No reason for the notice need be stated or given. If tenant fails to vacate, then they are served with a Summons and Complaint requesting a court order to evict them.

This is not to be construed as legal advice, but rather only a general opinion in response to a general question.