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What type of attorney would I need and what are my options ? What is the statute of limitations on a property / landlord issue?

Seattle, WA |

It will be 3 years this coming April that it was necessary for me to leave Washington for family matters. I was behind on my rent. My landlord asked if I was going to be able to catch the rent up. I informed that I could not at the moment, that I had to leave town on family matters. He told me I would have to move out of his house asap. I believe I received a 3day pay or vacate notice. It was impossible for me to be moved out before I left town. I made arrangements to have friends complete this asap and I left town. While I was gone, my landlord took matters into his hands. He asked my friends to leave the property and they complied. My landlord proceeded to remove my property, he disposed of it via garbage, giving it away and sold some for his profit.

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Filed under: Landlord-tenant
Attorney answers 4


You may need an attorney that deals with tenant landlord issues, but your question is unclear.


You should speak with a landlord/tenant attorney.

The legal analysis of any situation depends on a variety of factors which cannot be properly represented or accounted for in a response to an on-line question. Any answer, discussion or information is intended as general information only, is not intended to serve as legal advice or as a substitute for legal counsel, and should not be relied upon in making any decision. If you have a question about a specific factual situation, you should contact an attorney directly.


Here is the WA law on how the landlord can dispose of your personal property after you have abandoned the rental. The statute of limitations on your claim vs. landlord for illegal disposal would be 3 years and his claim for moneys owed vs you would be 6 years.

This is RCW 59.18.310:

(2) When the tenancy is for a term greater than month-to-month, the tenant shall be liable for the lesser of the following:
(a) The entire rent due for the remainder of the term; or
(b) All rent accrued during the period reasonably necessary to rerent the premises at a fair rental, plus the difference between such fair rental and the rent agreed to in the prior agreement, plus actual costs incurred by the landlord in rerenting the premises together with statutory court costs and reasonable attorneys' fees.
In the event of such abandonment of tenancy and an accompanying default in the payment of rent by the tenant, the landlord may immediately enter and take possession of any property of the tenant found on the premises and may store the same in any reasonably secure place. A landlord shall make reasonable efforts to provide the tenant with a notice containing the name and address of the landlord and the place where the property is stored and informing the tenant that a sale or disposition of the property shall take place pursuant to this section, and the date of the sale or disposal, and further informing the tenant of the right under RCW 59.18.230 to have the property returned prior to its sale or disposal. The landlord's efforts at notice under this subsection shall be satisfied by the mailing by first-class mail, postage prepaid, of such notice to the tenant's last known address and to any other address provided in writing by the tenant or actually known to the landlord where the tenant might receive the notice. The landlord shall return the property to the tenant after the tenant has paid the actual or reasonable drayage and storage costs whichever is less if the tenant makes a written request for the return of the property before the landlord has sold or disposed of the property. After forty-five days from the date the notice of such sale or disposal is mailed or personally delivered to the tenant, the landlord may sell or dispose of such property, including personal papers, family pictures, and keepsakes. The landlord may apply any income derived therefrom against moneys due the landlord, including actual or reasonable costs whichever is less of drayage and storage of the property. If the property has a cumulative value of two hundred fifty dollars or less, the landlord may sell or dispose of the property in the manner provided in this section, except for personal papers, family pictures, and keepsakes, after seven days from the date the notice of sale or disposal is mailed or personally delivered to the tenant: PROVIDED, That the landlord shall make reasonable efforts, as defined in this section, to notify the tenant. Any excess income derived from the sale of such property under this section shall be held by the landlord for the benefit of the tenant for a period of one year from the date of sale, and if no claim is made or action commenced by the tenant for the recovery thereof prior to the expiration of that period of time, the balance shall be the property of the landlord, including any interest paid on the income.


It is unlawful in WA for a landlord to use self-help to end a tenancy, and also unlawful to dispose of a tenant's property without written permission from the tenant. Of course there is more to it than that. But if you want to sue him in tort, arguably you need to get started before April.

Elizabeth Powell

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