Just Cause Eviction Ordinance

In Seattle, landlords must have 1 of 16 "Just Cause reasons" if they want to end your month=by-month rental agreement. Your landlord must give you a written notice commonly called a "Notice to Terminate Tenancy" and state the specific just cause. The amount of advance notice depends on the specific just cause reason. In general, the notice period is 20 days before the end of a rental period unless otherwise stated below. You can always contact the Renting in Seattle helpline at (206) 684-5700 for help to make sure a termination notice is valid and correct. To access the actual ordinance see the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance website.

The 16 just causes your landlord can use to end your month-by-month rental agreement are:

  • Late rent: you receive a 14 day notice to pay or vacate and fail to comply.
  • "Habitual failure": you receive 4 or more 14 day pay or vacate notices in the most recent 12 month period for late rent.
  • Violation of your rental agreement: You receive a 10 day notice to comply with the rules of your rental agreement or vacate and you fail to comply.
  • "Habitual failure": you have received 3 or more 10 day notices to comply or vacate in the most recent 12 month period for failure to comply with the rules of your rental agreement.
  • Your landlord or a member of their immediate family needs to move into your unit. This requires a 90 day notice. Your landlord can be required by the City to certify (sign a sworn declaration) if they use this just cause and you suspect they do not intend to occupy your unit when you move out.
  • Your landlord wants to sell the unit you rent. This requires a 90 day notice and only applies to single-family dwelling units, defined by City code as "detached structures that contain one dwelling unit and have a permanent foundation." If you live in a condo, apartment, duplex, triplex, or townhome, your landlord cannot use this as a just cause reason to end your rental agreement.
  • Your occupancy of a unit depends on being employed on the property and your employment is terminated. This would typically apply to property managers who live on site.
  • Your landlord rents a portion of their own home or an accessory dwelling unit to their own home and no longer wishes to share with you.
  • Your landlord wants to substantially remodel your unit or the building where you live displacing you permanently. This requires your landlord to apply to the City for a relocation license which is approximately a 6-month process. The license requirements include giving you an information packet and paying you relocation assistance if your income is at or below 50 percent of the median income for King County. For more details, read the Tenant Relocation Assistance webpage.
  • Your landlord wants to demolish the property where you live or change the use to non-residential. This requires a relocation license the same as displacement from a substantial remodel . See above.
  • Your landlord wants to convert your unit to a condo or a co-op.
  • Your landlord receives a notice of violation for housing standards in a permitted accessory dwelling unit and wants to discontinue renting it. The landlord must pay you relocation assistance in the amount of $2,000 or the equivalent of 2 months' rent two weeks before you move out.
  • Your landlord receives a notice of violation for an unauthorized housing unit, commonly called an "illegal unit," and has to discontinue renting your unit. The landlord must pay you relocation assistance of either $2,000 or the equivalent of 2 months' rent 2 weeks before you move out.
  • Your landlord has to reduce the number of renters in a dwelling unit to comply with the legal limit. This requires a 30-day notice and payment of relocation assistance of $2,000 or the equivalent of 2 months' rent 2 weeks prior to move out.
  • Your landlord is issued an emergency order by the City to vacate and close your housing unit due to hazardous conditions. The notice requirement depends on the specific circumstances of the emergency, but it is always a very short period of time. You may get relocation assistance if the emergency condition is found to be the landlord's responsibility. Low-income households receive $4,734.
  • Your landlord issues you a notice for engaging in criminal activity on the property. The landlord must specify the crime and facts supporting the allegation in the notice of termination and provide a copy to the City.

Important to know

Just cause rights cannot be waived. Any rental agreement that attempts to state otherwise cannot be enforced.

It is a violation of the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance for a landlord to rely on a just cause reason to end a rental agreement and fail to follow through, whether that means not moving into the unit, not listing it for sale, etc. Fines and penalties will apply, and renters have the right to sue for $2,000 in damages.