Just Cause Eviction Ordinance

This Seattle ordinance requires landlords to have a just cause to terminate a month-to-month tenancy or to not renew a lease when it ends. Below is a list of just cause reasons. There are different notice requirements depending on the just cause reason. Unless otherwise stated, the notice period to terminate a tenancy for just cause is a minimum of 20 days prior to the end of the monthly rental period. Here is a summary of each just cause reason:

  1. Your tenant fails to pay rent within 14 days of receiving a notice to pay rent or vacate.
  2. You have notified the tenant in writing of overdue rent at least 4 times in a 12-month period.
  3. You issue a 3 day notice to vacate to a tenant that seriously damages the rental unit (commits waste) or commits nuisance including a drug-related activity or maintaining an unlawful business.
  4. Your tenant commits a criminal activity and you have issued a 3 day notice to vacate. Such notices must be recorded with the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections and be verified by a police report supporting the facts.
  5. Your tenant does not comply with a material term of a rental agreement within 10 days of receiving a notice to comply or vacate.
  6. You have notified a tenant in writing at least 3 times in a 12-month period to comply within 10 days with a material term of the lease or rental agreement.
  7. You or your "immediate family" member need to move into the rental unit and there are no other comparable rental units that are vacant and in the same building. "Immediate family" includes the property owner, the property owner's domestic partner/spouse, and their parents, grandparents, children, brothers and sisters. The required notice period is 90 days but you can ask the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) for that notice period to be reduced to a minimum of 20 days if you can demonstrate a personal hardship.
  8. You want to sell your rental unit. This only applies when your rental unit is a single-family dwelling unit which is defined by City code as a detached structure on its own foundation. This means, apartments, condos, duplexes, townhomes etc. do not count and you cannot use this just cause. The required notice period is 90 days but you can ask the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) for that notice period to be reduced to 60 days if you can demonstrate a personal hardship.
  9. Your tenant's occupancy depends on their employment on the property and you terminate the employment relationship.
  10. You want to substantially rehabilitate your rental unit. First, you must apply for a tenant relocation license through the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI)and secure at least one permit for the rehab other than a Master Use Permit (MUP). The licensing process takes approximately 6 months.
  11. You want to demolish your rental unit. First, you must apply for a tenant relocation license through the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI)and secure at least one permit for the demolition. The licensing process takes approximately 6 months.
  12. You want to change the use of your rental unit from a residential apartment building to a hotel, for example. First, you must apply for a tenant relocation license through the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI)and secure at least one permit for the change of use.  The licensing process takes approximately 6 months.
  13. You want to convert your rental unit to a condominium or a cooperative. There are separate ordinances called the Condominium Conversion Ordinance and Cooperative Conversion Ordinance that apply when you use this just cause.
  14. You receive a "Land Use Notice of Violation" to discontinue use of an unauthorized rental unit. You must pay relocation assistance of $2,000, or two months' rent depending on the income of the displaced tenant at least two weeks prior to the date set for termination of the tenancy. If your tenant is under a lease agreement, you may have to negotiate a mutual termination of tenancy.
  15. You have more than the legally allowed number of unrelated individuals residing in your rental unit and receive a "Land Use Notice of Violation". You must pay relocation assistance of $2,000, or two months' rent depending on the income of the displaced tenant at least two weeks prior to the date set for termination of the tenancy.
  16. You issue a notice to terminate for criminal activity. The criminal activity must have taken place on the premises and be either a drug-related activity or an illegal activity that substantially threatens the health or safety of other residents. It must be recorded with the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) along with evidence to support the facts such as a police report.
  17. You want to terminate a rental agreement with a tenant who lives in the same housing unit with you or you want to terminate a rental agreement with a tenant who lives in your approved accessory dwelling unit (ADU).
  18. You receive a Land Use Notice of Violation for an approved ADU that does not meet development standards. If the violation is that you are not living on the property and have rented both the primary and accessory units, you must either reoccupy one of the units or remove one of them. You must pay relocation assistance of $2,000, or two months' rent depending on the income of the displaced tenant at least two weeks prior to the date set for termination of the tenancy.
  19. You receive an emergency order to vacate and close the rental unit because it is hazardous to the life and safety of your tenant. If the condition that caused the emergency is found to be your responsibility, you must pay relocation assistance to the displaced tenant household. The amount is $4,556.00 if the household is low-income and two times the rent if the household is not low-income.