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Eviction: Definition and how it works under the law

On Behalf of | Jan 9, 2023 | Real Estate and Landlord/Tenant Law |

Eviction is the legal process by which a landlord removes a tenant from a rental property. Whether in Washington or elsewhere, this process is governed by state and local laws, which vary by jurisdiction.

Eviction process

There are several reasons why a landlord may seek to evict a tenant, including nonpayment of rent, violation of the terms of the lease or rental agreement or engaging in illegal activities on the property.

However, a landlord cannot force a tenant to leave without following the proper legal procedures. This is where understanding real estate and landlord/tenant law can be helpful.

Notice to vacate

The first step in the eviction process is for the landlord to give the tenant a notice to vacate. This notice will usually specify the reason for the eviction and the time the tenant has to leave the property. In some cases, the tenant may be able to correct the problem and avoid eviction by paying any past-due rent or correcting the lease violation.

File eviction

If the tenant does not vacate the property by the deadline specified in the notice, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit. The tenant will receive a copy of the lawsuit and will have the opportunity to contest the eviction in court. If the tenant does not contest the eviction or if the court rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant will be ordered to vacate the property.

Obtain writ of possession

If the tenant still refuses to leave, the landlord can then ask the court to issue a writ of possession. This order allows the landlord to have the tenant physically removed from the property by the sheriff or a law enforcement officer.

It is important to note that a landlord cannot use self-help measures, such as changing the locks or shutting off utilities, to evict a tenant. Only a court-ordered writ of possession can be used to remove a tenant from the property.

Understanding the eviction process

Eviction is the legal process by which a landlord removes a tenant from a rental property. It involves giving the tenant a notice to vacate, filing an eviction lawsuit in court, and, if necessary, obtaining a writ of possession. Both landlords and tenants need to be familiar with the eviction laws in their jurisdiction to ensure that the process is handled correctly.