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Just Cause Eviction Ordinance

See also: Evictions

What Is It?

Passed in 1980, the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance prevents landlords from arbitrarily ending a rental agreement. The Just Cause Eviction Ordinance applies to month-by-month renters and renters with verbal agreements. In order to end a lease, a landlord or property manager must state one of the 18 approved reasons listed in the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance. Most Just Cause reasons do not require the owner to pay any type of relocation assistance to a tenant.

Common just cause reasons to end a rental agreement are:

  • Failure to pay rent after receiving a pay or vacate notice
  • Habitual failure to pay rent (receiving 4 or more pay or vacate notices within a 12-month period)
  • Failure to comply with a comply or vacate notice
  • Habitual failure to follow the terms of the rental agreement (receiving 3 or more notices for substantial failure to comply or vacate within a 12-month period)
  • Allowing waste (substantial deterioration of the property) or maintaining a nuisance (use of the property that substantially interferes with another person’s use of their property)
  • Owner wishes to sell the property (must give 90-days advance written notice prior to the sale)
  • Owner wishes to move into the property or have an immediate family member move into the property for use as their principal residence (must give 90-days advance written notice)
  • Owner seeks to substantially rehabilitate, demolish, remove use restrictions, or change the use of the property, AFTER completing the Tenant Relocation Assistance licensing process
  • Owner wishes to quit sharing the owner’s own rental unit or permitted accessory dwelling unit with the renter

Any lease provision that waives a renter’s rights under the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance is void and unenforceable.

What It Isn't

The Just Cause Eviction Ordinance is not a substitute for the Washington Landlord-Tenant Act (RCW 59.12 and 59.18). Landlords are required to comply with both state and local laws.

The Just Cause Eviction Ordinance does not apply to terminating lease contracts (written contracts that end on a specific date with no right to hold over).

Read the Code

Regulations relating to the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance are in the Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) and Washington state law.

Proposed Changes


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