Unlawful Detainer Eviction

See here for information on the COVID-19 Eviction Moratorium.

An eviction, or unlawful detainer, is the legal process a landlord must follow to ask a court to restore their possessory right to a rental unit. It is illegal for a landlord to attempt to evict a tenant without going through an unlawful detainer eviction. Actions like changing the locks, removing tenant belongings, or disconnecting utilities are all strictly prohibited. 

Before the court process can begin, the landlord must first give you a notice. The notice may attempt to end your rental agreement; state a just cause, collect late rent, or enforce the rules of your rental agreement. See types of notices. If you fail to comply with a valid notice, the landlord can then proceed with an unlawful detainer, which is an eviction lawsuit.

The landlord must attempt to serve you a King County Superior Court document called a "summons and complaint" that explains the reasons why they are asking the court to evict you in an unlawful detainer lawsuit.

It is extremely important that you seek advice from a qualified attorney immediately after receiving a summons and complaint. The document will contain a deadline for your response. If you do not respond by that deadline, you could be evicted by default.

Seattle has a right to counsel law that means any renter served with an eviction summons is entitled to legal counsel if they cannot afford an attorney.

The City partners with the Housing Justice Project to provide this right to legal counsel.  For help when you are served a summons:

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