Most people never get evicted. If you pay your rent on time, keep your rental reasonably clean and damage-free, and give proper notice to your property owner when leaving, you will easily avoid eviction. However, it’s important for you to be aware of the four types of legal evictions and their required notice:
Not paying rent. If you are even one day behind in rent, your property owner can issue a three day notice to pay or move out. If you pay all the rent due within three days, your property owner must accept it and cannot evict you. Your property owner is not required to accept a partial payment.
Not complying with the terms of the rental agreement. If you are not complying with the rental agreement (for example, keeping a cat when the agreement specifies “no pets”), your property owner can give you a Ten-Day Notice to Comply or Vacate. If you remedy the situation within that time, your property owner cannot continue the eviction process.
Creating a “waste or nuisance.” If you destroy the property; use the premises for unlawful activity, including gang or drug-related activities; damage the value of the property; or interfere with other tenants’ use of the property, the owner can issue a Three-Day Notice to Vacate. You must move out after receiving this type of notice. There is no option to stay and correct the problem.
No cause. Except in Seattle, property owners in Washington State can evict month-to-month tenants without having or stating a particular reason, as long as the eviction is not discriminatory or retaliatory. Your property owner must, however, give you 20 days notice before the next rent is due. Usually this type of eviction cannot occur on the middle of a lease (it can at the end) —only under a month-to-month rental agreement—but you should check your lease for the particulars of your agreement.
Renting a place is definitely more complicated than living in the Residence Halls. However, most property owners are fair and want you to enjoy your off-campus experience and your stay in their rental. No matter if you have a written lease or a verbal month-to-month agreement, Washington State law provides for these basic tenant rights:
The right to a livable dwelling
The right to protection from unlawful discrimination
The right to hold your property owner liable for damage caused by his or her negligence
The right to protection against lockouts and seizure of your personal property by your property owner
You can also seek free legal advice through the Legal Assistance by Whatcom Advocates (LAW) Program