Seattle Landlord Tenant Law


While Washington landlord-tenant laws apply in Seattle, the City has its own local ordinances that change the laws between residential landlord and tenant in important ways.

Just Cause Eviction.

In Seattle a tenant can be evicted only for certain enumerated reasons. So, even month-to-month tenants cannot be evicted unless there is just cause.

The just cause list includes failure to comply with a notice to pay rent or vacate or a notice to comply or vacate, sale of a single family residence upon 60 days notice. A month-to-month tenancy may be terminated if the tenant is served with 4 or more notices to pay rent or vacate or 3 or more notices to comply or vacate in a 12 month period, the landlord seeks to sell a single family residence or intends to occupy the premises, and certain other enumerated just cause reasons.

Registration.

All Seattle residential landlords must register their rental properties with the City, and are subject to random inspection.

Relocation Assistance.

Several situations require relocation assistance under the Seattle Municipal Code. (This is to be distinguished from relocation assistance under RCW 59.18.085 for rental of a condemned or unlawful dwelling.) Relocation assistance is required if the landlord intends substantial rehabilitation of the property, a change of use, or removal of use restrictions, or the landlord’s consent to the number of occupants exceeding legal maximum.

Tenants may argue for relocation assistance in an eviction case (a/k/a unlawful detainer action).

Eviction Protection.

The Seattle Municipal Code affords eviction protection to tenants who qualify for relocation assistance. A landlord may not evict a tenant or reduce services or materially increase the obligations of a such a tenant.

There are certain exceptions to eviction protection. For example, eviction protection does not apply to tenants who do not pay the rent.