A tenant who has violated a condition of their lease may be served with a 10-day notice to comply or vacate. A 10-day notice to comply or vacate may not be used if the tenant has failed to timely pay rent. Typically a 10-day notice to vacate is used for other breaches of the lease agreement such as unauthorized pets, unauthorized roommates, failure to pay utilities or other deposits. The notice should state the condition that has been breached and state the tenant has ten days from receipt of the notice to cure the issue or to vacate the premises. When in doubt, a landlord should contact an attorney to draft their 10-day notice to comply or vacate.
When to serve the 10-day notice to comply or vacate?
The 10-day notice to comply or vacate can be served at any time during the lease or rental period after the landlord determines that the tenant is in violation of the lease. The 10-day notice to comply or vacate can be served even when the tenant is paying rent on time.
Serve the 10-day notice to comply or vacate.
The tenant must be served with the 10-day notice before it becomes effective. Washington law is very specific about how the notice be served. The notice must be given to the tenant in one of the following methods: a) Personally delivered to the tenant, b) Personally delivered to a person of suitable age and discretion at the subject premises AND ALSO mailed to the tenant, or c) If the previous options are not possible, a copy of the notice can be affixed to a conspicuous place on the premises (typically this means posting the notice on the door) AND ALSO mailing a copy to the tenant. It is wise to mail the notice return receipt requested. However, service is considered complete when it is deposited in the US mail with a proper address. The person who delivers the notice to the premises should complete an affidavit stating that the 10-day notice was delivered. When in doubt, contact an attorney to help ensure proper service.
If the tenant complies with the 10-day notice and cures their violation of the lease they are by law allowed to remain as tenants in the premises. In that case, a landlord should see my guide on use of a 20-day notice to vacate to evict tenants without any reason. If the tenant fails to comply with the notice within 10 days, they are now unlawfully detaining the property and preventing the landlord from using it. See my guide on Unlawful Detainer Actions to find out what to do next.