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How long does it take to evict someone for not paying rent?

Seattle, WA |

I lost my job recently and I have been unable to afford my rent. The other day I received a notice on my front door stating that I have to pay the rent or vacate within three days. I do not have the money to pay the rent and I do not have anywhere to go in such a short time. I have heard that an eviction in Washington ussually takes 3 months, is this true?

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Attorney answers 3


The process can take as little as 19 days if you have a very aggressive landlord. Most evictions are completed and the sheriff has removed the tenant in under one month.

It is very rare for an eviction to take 3 months unless the case gets set for trial.

This answer is for informational purposes only and should not be construed to establish an attorney client relationship. Before taking any legal action, it is always advisable to discuss your specific situation with an attorney.


Sometimes unlawful detainer (eviction) does take several months as some landlords give tenants chances to find money to pay the rent. Landlords understand that sometimes people run into financial troubles.

If you have been a good tenant, you can talk with your landlord to see whether your landlord would work with you. If you can quickly find a new job, perhaps your landlord will wait for you to get paid.

If the landlord is not willing to wait for the rent and unless you have valid reasons for not paying rent (such as because there is something substantially defective with the rental and you have followed the statutory procedures), around King Count, the sheriff can be at the door within a month to move you out if you do not voluntarily leave. Not having money to pay rent is not a valid reason under the law not to pay rent.

If you can avoid having an eviction proceeding filed against you, you should avoid it. Some landlords would not rent to a person who was evicted.


You got good answers here, I am just writing to add that what you received is the predicate notice. After the three days has run, you could be served with a summons and complaint for unlawful detainer. If filed with the Court, you could be served with an order requiring you to appear for a hearing. Be careful not to be late answering the complaint, and you have to appear if there is a hearing.

In the Kent and the Seattle courthouses, there are groups of volunteer attorneys who staff the Housing Justice Project. They can review the pleadings and determine whether you might have a defense and advise you accordingly. Every inference is drawn in favor of the tenant,and any errors are a basis for the court to dismiss the action (so you would not get evicted) That said, if the landlord's attorney does their job correctly AND you owe rent, it is highly likely that the Court will sign a judgment and issue an order for a writ. The sheriff will serve you a copy of the writ the next day. Don't be scared, they have to come back.

The writ has to "sit" for three days if you have a month-to-month agreement, five days if you have a lease which has not by its terms expired. This is to give you the opportunity to pay off the judgement, and that makes the unlawful detainer go away all together.

After the applicable period, the sheriff will come back, and this time he'll do a civil standby while your landlord and helpers actually move your stuff out. If you tell them they have to transport and store your personal property somewhere safe and secure. They can (and will) make you pay to get your stuff back from storage, so this is not a great option.

But the point I wanted to make is that at every junction of this process you are entitled to notice and an opportunity to respond. Nothing will happen by surprise, and the sheriff does not work at midnight or any times other than 9:00 am to 5:00 pm no matter what the writ says.

If you have children living with you, please contact DSHS as they have emergency housing funds available sometimes. If not - well, godspeed to you. I wish you all the best with a very tough situation. Hope this helps. Elizabeth Powell

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