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I am being evicted. How long do I have to be out of the rental if I have monthly lease and I failed to pay rent?

Eatonville, WA |

I have lost my job and cant pay my rent this month. I have a month to month lease and am sure they will serve an eviction notice, How long in washington do I have till I must be out? I am trying to make other arrangements but for the just in case? I have heard it is a three day pay or vacate does that mean I must be out on the third day or do I have the twenty day as if they are teminating my lease?

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Attorney answers 1


Before anything goes to far, keep in mind that an eviction on your record makes it very difficult to find new housing. While it is not impossible, you will have to overcome obstacles. An eviction will show up on your record when the landlord files the action in court and pays the appropriate fee. There are steps that he or she must go through before they file an eviction (unlawful detainer). The end result of a landlords attempt to gain back the property through an unlawful detainer action is a writ of restitution. A court can only hear the case and issue a writ of restitution if the tenant is still in possession of the property. Possession is usually defined as having access to the property such as keys. If the tenant has given back access to the property to the landlord, an court does not have jurisdiction to hear an unlawful detainer action.

If you do not pay rent, they must issue you a 3 day pay or vacate notice. This is a notice telling you that you have 3 days to pay the rent or in the alternative vacate the property. If you vacate the property, you will still owe for the remainder of that month or the duration of the lease, but they will not be able to bring an unlawful detainer action. You may be sued in small claims, district, or superior court depending upon the amount of past rent and damages the landlord claims you owe.

If you know that you cannot pay rent, and would like to end the tenancy quickly, it may be a good idea to talk to your landlord to work out a payment plan for the July rent, and give the landlord your 20 day notice to terminate your tenancy at the end of the month. Landlords do not like to bring unlawful detainer actions because they cost money, and if you can set up a payment plan for the one month that you are missing, it may work out the best for everyone involved.

The nuclear option is not paying rent, not discussing the situation with your landlord, and not vacating after the 3 day notice is posted, and not giving your 20 day notice to vacate. Your landlord will be forced to bring an unlawful detainer action against you, and if it is filed it will appear on your record regardless of the conclusion. This will make it much more difficult to find a new apartment in the future. The time frame for such an action could possibly take 30 days depending upon the strategy the landlord uses, but then again it will burn any and all bridges you have with the landlord and make finding a new place to live much more difficult.