Defenses to Eviction

Seattle's Just Cause Eviction Ordinance requires that you have a just cause to terminate a rental agreement with your tenant. The ordinance also provides a number of defenses to eviction for eligible renters once the unlawful detainer has been filed.  

Post moratorium eviction protection

Applies for 6 months after the moratorium expires

  • Creates a defense for tenants with delinquent rent due to the impacts of the pandemic
  • Tenants must certify their financial hardship
  • All 14-day pay or vacate notices must include information on this eviction defense until August 31

Civil emergency eviction protection

  • Applies permanently with relation to delinquent rent accrued during the civil emergency and up to 6 months after the civil emergency ends
  • Creates a defense for tenants with delinquent rent accrued during this period
  • Tenants must certify their financial hardship
  • All 14-day pay or vacate notices for delinquent rent accrued during the civil emergency must include information on this eviction defense and up to six months after it ends

School year eviction protection 

  • Applies to eligible tenants during the Seattle School's academic year from September - June
  • Creates a defense for tenant households with children attending school (daycare - high school) as well as tenants employed by schools etc. during this period
  • Exemptions exist for landlords where the following just causes apply:
    • Landlord or their immediate family need to occupy the unit themselves (90 day notice/may be required to certify by the City)
    • Landlord receives a notice of violation for renting an unpermitted unit and must discontinue use. (20-day notice/tenant relocation assistance)
    • Landlord must reduce the number of tenants in a unit after receiving notice from the City (20-day notice/tenant relocation assistance)
    • Landlord must discontinue an accessory dwelling unit after receiving notice from the City  (20-day notice/tenant relocation assistance)
    • Landlord must discontinue renting a unit that is deemed unsafe or uninhabitable by emergency order from the City (Dependent on specific circumstances)
    • Landlord issues a notice to quit for criminal activity, waste or nuisance, imminent hazard (3-day notice/criminal activity notice must be sent to SDCI timely with supporting facts (i.e. a police report) for review and recording

Winter eviction protection 

  • Applies to eligible tenants from December 1 - March 1
  • Creates a defense for tenant households at or below 80% of AMI (area median income) during this period
  • Exemptions to this eviction defense include:
    • Landlords with ownership interest in less than 4 properties.
    • Landlord or their immediate family need to occupy the unit themselves (90 day notice/may be required to certify by the City)
    • Owner wishes to sell a single-family dwelling unit (90-day notice/SFD is defined as a seperate structure on a permanent foundation)
    • Landlord receives a notice of violation for renting an unpermitted unit and must discontinue use. (20-day notice/tenant relocation assistance)
    • Landlord must reduce the number of tenants in a unit after receiving notice from the City (20-day notice/tenant relocation assistance)
    • Landlord must discontinue renting a unit that is deemed unsafe or uninhabitable by emergency order from the City (Dependent on specific circumstances
    • Owner issues a notice to quit for criminal activity, waste or nuisance, imminent hazard (3-day notice/criminal activity notice must be sent to SDCI timely with supporting facts (i.e. a police report) for review and recording

There are other defenses to eviction available to renters throughout the code mostly related to landlord non-compliance such as;not registering your rental property, serving an invalid notice, failing to certify a just cause when required by the City. If a renter suspects a just cause notice was issued to them in bad faith, they can contact the City and you may be required to certify the just cause. Consulting an attorney is strongly recommended when pursuing an eviction action.