Seattle Just Cause Eviction and Selling Your House

For a Seattle residential landlord, selling your house can be tricky. Under the just cause eviction ordinance the landlord must give 90 days notice (not a 20-day notice).

The date to terminate the tenancy (the date the tenant is to vacate) must be the last day of a rental period—usually but not necessarily the last day of a calendar month. The notice must be served at least 90 days in advance. It is not correct to simply add 90 days to the current date.

Under a recent Court of Appeals decision, the landlord may not enter into a purchase and sale agreement prior to the end of the 90 day period—unless the intent is for the new owner to take the property with a tenant in it.

In R. Thoreson Homes, LLC v. Prudhon the owners sold their Seattle home. The house was rented out to a tenant. The purchase and sale agreement required the owners to serve a 90-day notice on the tenant, which the owners did.

The tenant refused to vacate, arguing that the 90-day notice of intent to sell was not valid. The tenant argued that an owner cannot have an “intent” to sell something that has already been sold.

The new owner sought to evict the tenant. The trial court found for the new owner, and awarded the new owner $17,725.46 in attorney fees and costs. The Court of Appeals reversed this holding, however, and awarded attorney fees and costs to the tenant in an amount to be determined.

The Seattle just cause eviction ordinance can be a trap for the unwary. A Seattle residential landlord should consult with an attorney before acting.