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We are buying a house with tenants. How do we get rid of them before we close on the house?

Seattle, WA |

We are buying a house in Seattle with tenants. The current owner/landlord has very poor English and does not understand the process. We think the tenants are on month-to-month but it is highly possible there is no lease agreement at all - we have asked for the lease several times but just get bits of paper between the landlord and tenant quoting RCW 59.18.140/280/030/130 etc so we think the landlord thinks the State Legislation is the actual lease. What needs to be done to get them out before we close on the property (currently 9/10 but likely to move a week later) and who needs to do what? Can our Realtor do anything? What does the landlord do? What if they are not out before closing? We have a clause in our sale contract that they all have to be out of the house 3 days before close

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Attorney answers 2


You need to get your Realtor on board and working with the Seller's Realtor to ensure your objectives are met as the tenants do have specific rights under state law. Obviously you will not close if the tenants are not out so the Realtors need to hire an interpretor, etc. to get it taken care of - no real magic here unless there is a longer term lease, which you would be bound to honor if you purchase the real estate - you need a written contract representation from the Seller there is no long term lease, etc.

Good luck.

Mr. Post is licensed to practice law in KS and MO. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/ client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that if known could significantly change the reply unsuitable. Mr. Post strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to ensure proper advice is received.


The lease and the mortgage are two separate estates. You are taking over the leasehold in addition to buying the property. Seattle has specific local ordinances which are going to dictate how and under what terms you can terminate this leasehold.

If the agreement is a month to month, it can be ended witha 20-day notice if you are planning to move into the property yourselves. However, it is too late in August to use the 20-day notice to end this tenancy September 1, 2009.

Unless your realtor is a licensed attorney, you would be much better served by having a consult with Evan Loeffler or Travis Scott Eller, either of whom are skilled real estate attorneys with practices in landlord tenant who can advise you properly of the special rules for ending a tenancy in the City of Seattle.

The other way would be to pay them to move. People do this all the time. Hope this helps. Elizabeth Powell

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