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  1. #1

    Default Eviction Procedures in Washington, Snohomish County

    My question involves an eviction in the state of: Washington

    I gave them 5 days to pay or quit, then 3 days to quit, but they refuse to pay. They owe for December's rent (check bounced), late charges December till now, and for my overdraft fees resulting from their bounced check. We've been on month-to-month for about seven months.

    I've looked around here for a guide, but there doesn't seem to be anything Washington-specific. The Snoho Law Library used to sell a packet, but it was made by an attorney in Clark County and some of his procedures are wrong for Snohomish County.

    I know I need to file in Superior Court, probably a Summons for Unlawful Detainer. But in my research I find lots of other documents like "Complaint for Unlawful Detainer", "Affidavit of Service for Notice of Unlawful Detainer", "Order for Defendant to Show Cause", "Motion and Affidavit (and Order) for Order of Default", "Writ (and Order) of Restitution", "Praecipe for Writ of Restitution", "Request for Storage of Personal Property".

    Maybe I need to file the Summons and Complaint docs? Is the affidavit, to swear that I've given them 3 days' notice, and must it go with the Complaint?

    How must the docs be served in Snoho county? By Sheriff, Constable, or CMRRR? How far down should I schedule the hearing?

    I did get the rent for January and deposited it, but before I got notice that their December check had bounced. I certainly won't get rent for February, so must include that plus its late charges to the hearing in my action as well. I guess I have to wait until they're out, before I can file suit for any damages.

    Any input appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Eviction Procedures in Washington, Snohomish County

    First thing I suggest you do is send or serve your tenant written notice that the check for December bounced and that you are applying his recent rent check (assuming it's good) to the December rent and that he's now in default for January's rent and you'll need to send a pay or quit notice for the January's rent before you can file for eviction. You aren't likely to be able to include any costs for February until you have him out and then you may need to file a separate lawsuit once you have the place re-rented and you can determine the exact amount.

    I don't know the step by step eviction procedure for WA. You might see if Snohomish has it's own packet of forms and instructions. Might not. I looked on the Snohomish website and couldn't find anything. You might try the websites of the other counties and see if they have anything like that. With a little creativity you can modify the forms to suit your own county.

    Meantime, here's a few resources. If you haven't read the statutes, the Unlawful Entry and Detainer statute is here:

    http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=59.16

    And the landlord tenant statute is here:

    http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=59.18

    I also found a link to the Rental Housing Association of WA which I strongly suggest you join immediately as the association likely has a lot of information that would be useful to you even now.

    http://www.rhawa.org/

    By the way, I owned rentals here in Phoenix for 20 years and ended up so disgusted with low life deadbeat tenants that I sold them all and never looked back. I had a drawer full of uncollectible judgments and you might find yourself in the same position with this one. I feel your pain.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Eviction Procedures in Washington, Snohomish County

    Usually you can make your way through an eviction based upon a walkthrough for another county in the state, as long as you check the local court rules and verify that the forms are acceptable in your county (sometimes there will be local court forms, often substantially equivalent, but preferred or required by the local court).

    Sometimes the best thing to do is to employ a lawyer for your first eviction case, and to learn the procedures for your county by watching the case proceed and attending the court hearings. Some landlords decide after such an experience that they can represent themselves in future proceedings, while others decide that it's easier to simply rely upon their law firm for future evictions. Here's an example of how do-it-yourself evictions can go wrong.

    It should be possible to ask for money damages in your complaint for eviction. The difficulty with deadbeat tenants is that it's often difficult to impossible to collect the money owed on a judgment.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Eviction Procedures in Washington, Snohomish County

    Thanks guys.

    Too late to send a notice about applying Jan to December, as I've already sent the eviction notice and today is filing day.

    I guess I'll do a Summons, and Complaint, and then have the Sheriff serve it.

    I've been in shock this morning because I couldn't find the Lease ANYWHERE. I went through all my files, and in my archives out in the shed, but nada. Finally I came across another complete file I had on the property at the corner of my (large, cluttered) desk. Thank goodness everything is there. I've done the Summons now, and am working on the Complaint.

    I used to own and run an apartment complex, and indeed could paper my walls with judgments. But the laws are quite a bit different in Washington, so I'm getting up to speed. The Summons form is in RCW 59.18.365 (http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=59.18.365) and the Complaint is at the Snoho County Law Library.

    They've sent me a check for December's rent, but it does not include all late charges nor the overdraft fee. They, as of today, still refuse to pay those, so are insisting that they get an eviction and judgment on their record... and he has a good job. As lifelong tenants, an eviction will be an awful thing for them as time goes on not to mention the effect on their credit, and I've told them this patiently, but they just insist on getting it. So be it.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Eviction Procedures in Washington, Snohomish County

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    They've sent me a check for December's rent, but it does not include all late charges nor the overdraft fee.
    Danger!

    If you accept December's rent as paid you might lose your right to evict.

    To preserve your right to evict you might have to return the check with notice that partial payment (rent without late charge) is not accepted and they are still in default for December.

    Note the word "might" in those two sentences. I don't have the time to scour the statutes to make sure of that but it's been my own experience here in AZ when I had rentals. Make sure of your position before you go through the expense of filing in court.

    As tempting as it is to pocket that money, it could get your eviction dismissed and you'll have to start all over again in February if they are late again.

    I guess the upside to that is that you have December and January's rent and you might just have to eat the smaller amount of late charges rather than lose December's rent altogether.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Eviction Procedures in Washington, Snohomish County

    Thanks AJ. Yes I know to not cash that check. My notices to them were all about not accepting partial payment and how much short they were.

    Yesterday I filed my Summons & Complaint two minutes before the Clerk's office closed. Turns out there are two flavors of eviction filings: Default, and Show Cause. Default is like $87 and Show Cause is an additional $112, but the catch is you're supposed to predict whether they'll respond or not! Weird system. I think they will respond, but I filed it as a Default because I can always pay the additional SC fee if they answer.

    On the Summons I was supposed to fill in the deadline for them to respond. No idea what that should be and I didn't find it in statute. The clerk said she thinks it's 7-10 days, so I set it 12 days hence. Lucky thing, because when I took it up to the Sheriff to serve, they seem to need some days to serve it. (and frickin' $100)

    This method of eviction is quite complex, with the necessity of crafting a Summons and Complaint with the right legal language (out of reach for most landlords), and the tenant is not going to be able to answer without a lawyer. I'm suspicioning that there's a simpler way; maybe all it takes is filing a Show Cause and setting a hearing. That would be much closer to the simple and direct way it is done in Texas, but I can't find procedure in statute of course.

    I'll take Mr. KIA's advice and search around King County (Seattle) for eviction procedures. Snoho County has no guidance.

    The tenants are a middle-aged couple and he has a good job in aerospace. I can't believe they are forcing me to do this; I've practically begged them to pay on time, as they've been late for three months (after 2 years on-time), and I expressed sadness when they refused to pay the late fees and overdraft. The eviction/judgment will prevent them from renting anything but the worst in future, and it will haunt their credit for at least ten years. So foolish. So unnecessary of them.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Eviction Procedures in Washington, Snohomish County

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    Thanks AJ. Yes I know to not cash that check.
    Keeping the check in your possession is the same as cashing it. You have to return it to them or the judge is likely to rule that you have been paid because they no longer have control of that money as long as the check is outstanding.

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    I took it up to the Sheriff to serve, they seem to need some days to serve it. (and frickin' $100)
    If sheriff service wasn't mandatory you might have done better with a private process server.

    Quote Quoting quantumn
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    This method of eviction is quite complex, with the necessity of crafting a Summons and Complaint with the right legal language (out of reach for most landlords), and the tenant is not going to be able to answer without a lawyer.
    Maybe. But I wouldn't bet the farm on it.

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    The tenants are a middle-aged couple and he has a good job in aerospace. I can't believe they are forcing me to do this; I've practically begged them to pay on time, as they've been late for three months (after 2 years on-time),
    Then you need to develop a heart of stone when it comes to tenants.

    The only way to handle late pays is to jump on them with both feet. Pay or quit notice immediately upon default. Hand back any late check that doesn't include the late pay and file for eviction in court the next day after the pay or quit deadline.

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    and I expressed sadness when they refused to pay the late fees and overdraft. The eviction/judgment will prevent them from renting anything but the worst in future, and it will haunt their credit for at least ten years. So foolish. So unnecessary of them.
    If you haven't figured this out by now, it's time you did. Tenants will walk all over you if you give them the chance.

    I was always friendly and cordial to my tenants as long as they paid on time, took care of the place, and behaved themselves. Until they crossed me. Then the gloves came off.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Eviction Procedures in Washington, Snohomish County

    Oh dear, I'll return it (CMRRR) today.

    Thing is, I used to own an apartment complex so I know what's what about things. (at least in Texas) But being 60 yo now I just think it's a shame when someone willfully, pridefully, self-destroys their future unnecessarily.

    I've just gotten a CMRRR from them, a letter "giving me 20 days' notice as per Washington statute." They say they'll be out by Feb 13. Well, I've already texted him that it's too late for that. But I didn't tell him that no, it's only 20 days when no lease period exists; in our case it was month-to-month, so a 30 day notice is required by statute. Doesn't matter.

    In that letter they gave me their new address, which is a house only a block or so away. The wife is quite the gossip, and I know she will contact my new tenants and unload on them. So today I sent him a text explaining that they --must not have any contact-- with my new tenants, or I will need to send the eviction court documents to {name} in {city}, HI. That I'm sure they've leased with a management company, but she is the -owner-, and I'm pretty sure they must have misled the management company to get the house. And that if they leave me alone, I'll leave them alone.

    - - - Updated - - -

    This is absolutely all I can find, but it makes sense, and I'm on the right track: https://www.fullservicepm.com/owners/eviction.html

    Indeed it's a complex process here. So if they evade service by the Sheriff then he'll let me know and I have to get a court order for posting the notice on the door.

    If they accept/once they get, service I must allow them 10 days to answer, and if they don't in that time I can file for a writ. All I'd have to do is go in to the "Day Court" and ask a judge there to sign it.

    If they answer (which I think they will) then I pay the Show Cause fee (and maybe file a Motion to Show Cause? Get the Order in "Day Court?") and we go to court. It's not clear how the court date is set, but maybe it's not automatic and I have to go in and set it, and provide notice. Fortunately I have two provisions lin the lease which will allow me to ask for February's rent as well. There's a better chance they'll pay a judgment than many; they'd be foolish not to.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Eviction Procedures in Washington, Snohomish County

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    they'd be foolish not to.
    You keep attributing wisdom to your tenants when they've already proved the opposite.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Eviction Procedures in Washington, Snohomish County

    Well they've successfully evaded three attempts by the Sheriff to serve the Summons and Complaint, so the papers were sent back to the Sheriff's Office, as I found out when I called yesterday. This means I get a refund of $38 (out of $100) but the papers aren't considered to have been served, so I have to pay another $100 for the Sheriff to go out again and frickin' tape it to their door.

    So next I drew up a Motion for Alternative Service (and Order), with my affidavit that they can't be found or are evading (RCW 59.18.055), and took it to the "Ex Parte Court" yesterday (a 'day court' with commissioner rather than judge), but first I needed an affidavit from the actual Sheriff's officer who'd tried to serve. Unfortunately the affidavit was drawn up but won't be signed until Monday or Tuesday, so that delay. The Sheriff's clerk said yesterday the Commissioner might sign it anyway... but she refused. Alternative service also means that this case can no longer be about a judgment, but only an eviction. So I assume I'll have to file a Small Claims action for the money judgment. That can wait until I know the damages.

    While I was at it, yesterday I drew up a First Amended Summons, changing their 'answer no later than' date, due to the delay. And I drew up a Motion to Show Cause and Order, which sets a hearing. The Ex Parte court at least signed that order yesterday. Technically these could be mailed CMRRR, but I'm going to have the Sheriff serve them while he's at it.

    In Washington, evictions must be heard by the Superior Court (which I'd filed in), not District or small claims. But they're not heard in full-blown Superior Court; sensibly, it's an adjunct court specifically for unlawful detainer called "Department A". This is where my show cause motion will be heard, and show cause is the mechanism for getting the actual Writ of Restitution (eviction) and judgment when applicable. I got the format for the Show Cause motion from Washington Family Court forms online, the Motion for Contempt. I got the Order from the law library.

    Small Claims is limited to $5,000, and back rent and charges are already $4,979. That's not counting any damages, so that will certainly exceed small claims jurisdiction. If I don't worry about it and file in small claims, they could then sue me for the deposit, so I may have to file in District Court. On the other hand I could add the damages to the small claims action and waive any over $5,000, but would that again make me liable for the deposit?

    Another thing about Washington law I've discovered is that I must attempt to hand the tenants the three-day notice before I'm allowed to mail it CMRRR.

    As they're purposefully evading service, I expect that they don't want to know and won't answer, which makes this easy. If I drop it and count on them moving out, I have no doubt they'll try to sue me for the deposit. But I can't take a chance on them -not- moving out, so I must continue. I predict they'll not answer the Summons, nor the small claims action, so an eviction and judgment will be made. Yes it costs money, but the husband has a good job and they're going to need their credit, so I expect they'll ultimately pay.

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