Most lease agreements and month to month oral agreements state that rent is due on the first of every month. Your agreement may be different and you should rely upon what is listed in your lease.
Make sure to note that the day rent is due and the day late fees apply are different. A landlord may have a clause stating that late fees will be assessed after the 5th of the month, but that rent is still due on the 1st of the month. This means that anytime after the first of month, regardless of the late fee date, a landlord may issue a 3 day pay or vacate notice.
Days 2-5 - Landlord issues a 3 day pay or vacate notice
The landlord may issue a 3 day pay or vacate notice anytime after rent becomes due. The landlord is required to serve the notice in accordance with RCW 59.12.040. The amount of time the tenant has to respond to the notice depends upon how the notice was served.
Never count the day the notice was served, and the tenant has 3 full days to either pay the rent or vacate the property before the landlord may start an eviction action with the court.
Days 6-13 - Landlord Issues a Summons and Complaint for Unlawful Detainer
If the three day notice remains uncomplied with for a period of 3 full days after service, the landlord may start an unlawful detainer proceeding. The landlord must provide at least 7 full calendar days for the tenant to respond after the day of service. This time is allowed for the tenant to produce a response or a notice of appearance to the action. Failure to answer or appear within this time frame may mean the landlord wins by default.
Day 14 - Show Cause Hearing
The landlord may set a show cause hearing as quickly as the day after your response is due. In many instances, the summons and complaint will not have been filed at the time you respond. When you respond, the landlord must then schedule a show cause hearing. You are required to have at least 6 days prior notice to a show cause hearing.
At your show cause hearing you will present and defenses and/or set offs to the eviction action. If you prevail, the action will end and you will not be evicted. If you lose, the landlord may seek a writ of restitution.
Day 15 - Sheriff Posts the writ of restitution
Usually 1 day after the show cause hearing, the sheriff will post a notice in a conspicuous location on the property (front door) indicating that you have 72 hours to vacate. You now have at least 3 days after the day of service of this notice to vacate the property. Should you fail to vacate, the sheriff may be forced to physically remove you.
Day 19 - Sheriff Physically removes the tenant
After the expiration of the 72 hour notice, the sheriff can physically remove you from the property and demand that you not return under penalty of trespassing. Day 19 is the first day the sheriff can execute on the writ of restitution. Actual timelines and practices vary from county to county.
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