Experienced Real Property Attorney
Attorney Travis Scott Eller focuses much of his practice on real property law. Travis Eller provides eviction service, handles landlord-tenant litigation, and helps landlords defend civil rights and fair housing complaints.
Travis Eller has decades of litigation experience, including quiet title actions, earnest money agreement disputes, disputes involving homeowners associations, and ejectment actions. In landlord-tenant matters Mr. Eller represents residential landlords, commercial landlords, and commercial tenants.
Mr. Eller handles eviction hearings, trials, and cases in the Court of Appeals. Clients include large multi-unit apartment complexes, property management firms, individual landlords renting a single-family home or condo unit, and small and medium size businesses.
The National Institute for Trial Advocacy awarded Travis Eller its “Advocate” designation.
Mr. Eller gives lectures at landlord-tenant seminars attended by rental property owners, property managers, and other attorneys.
Eviction moratoriums. Federal, state, and local eviction moratoriums were enacted in response to the pandemic. These laws frequently change and differ by location. Some eviction moratoriums have requirements that extend past their expiration. Consult with an attorney.
Commercial evictions. We regularly handle commercial landlord-tenant disputes. We represent both commercial tenants and landlords throughout the Puget Sound area.
Residential evictions. With recent changes in residential landlord-tenant law it is more important than ever to have an experienced landlord-tenant attorney in you corner. The residential eviction process has been impacted by recent changes in landlord-tenant law on both the state and local level. Familiarity with local law is a must. We have represented residential landlords in eviction cases for many years.
Some localities, such as Seattle, Tacoma, and Federal Way, have additional legal requirements for residential tenancies. Be sure to use eviction notice forms appropriate for your rental property location.
Post-foreclosure evictions. The successful bidder at a foreclosure auction is entitled to possession against former owners and non-tenant occupants twenty days after the sale. If the foreclosed former owner refuses to vacate, the buyer must evict the occupants (even if there are no tenants in the property). If the foreclosed property is occupied by tenants of the former owner, there are additional requirements.
Washington State-wide Eviction Moratorium
The state-wide eviction moratorium expires August 1. Landlords may not serve initial notices, such as a notice to pay rent or vacate or a notice to terminate the tenancy.
Owners may serve a 60-day notice if the owner intends to personally occupy the rental as a primary residence or to sell the rental. The date of termination should be the last day of a rental period (typically calendar month). Owners also must comply with local laws, some of which require longer notice periods.
There are also narrow exceptions where a tenant poses an immediate risk to health, safety, or property. A resident’s exposure or contracting COVID-19 cannot be the basis for eviction.
Rent increases are prohibited for residential tenancies. Commercial tenants are shielded from rent increases if the commercial tenant has been materially impacted by COVID-19.
Federal Eviction Moratorium
A federal eviction moratorium applies to properties with a Federally backed mortgage loan, Federally backed multifamily mortgage loan, Section 8 tenants, and covered housing programs of the Violence Against Women Act. The federal moratorium prohibits evictions for non-payment of rent or other charges. The moratorium runs through July 24, after which landlords are required to serve a 30-day notice.
Seattle Eviction Moratorium
The Seattle eviction moratoriums on both residential and commercial properties has been extended through August 1.
Note that although the state-wide eviction moratorium allows the landlord to give 60 days' notice for an intent to sell or move into the rental property, the Seattle just cause eviction ordinance requires 90 days notice for an intent to sell or move into the rental property. In Seattle, the landlord must give 90 days' notice, even though only 60 days is required under Governor Inslee's moratorium.
Many are confused by reports that Seattle extended the residential moratorium another six months. That is not accurate. The moratorium ends August 1, but there are new residential tenant defenses that extend another six months.
King County Eviction Moratorium
King County Superior Court emergency orders require a declaration from the landlord when asking for a show cause hearing demonstrating the landlord’s eligibility for an exception to the eviction moratoriums. The Court is also requiring the parties to mediate in good faith.
Am I allowed to serve a notice to terminate tenancy if it does not expire until after the moratorium?
No. The Governor’s moratorium does not allow service of any type of notice that requires a tenant or occupant to vacate.
This is intentionally stated in rather broad terms, and the language of the moratorium goes on to specifically prohibit service of notices to terminate tenancy.
The only basis for serving notice under the eviction moratorium is if the owner intends to move in or sell the property, or the tenant poses an immediate threat to safety, health, or property.
Intent to move in or sell requires 60 days’ notice. Local law may require longer periods. For example, Seattle requires 90 days and Federal Way requires 120 days. The termination date must be the last day of a rental period (typically a calendar month), and is not calculated as a number of days from the current date.
Before there was an eviction moratorium in some locations local law already required notice if the owner wants to sell or move into the rental property. For example, Seattle and Burien require 90 days. Federal Way requires 120 days.
In Seattle and Burined, the landlord therefore must give 90 days notice(not 60 days’ notice).
In Federal Way, the landlord must give 120 days’ notice(not 60 days’ notice).
Also, the termination date must be the last day of a rental period (usually calendar months), not 90 or 120 days from the current date.
No. Seattle did not extend the eviction moratorium six more months.
The City provided a legal defense for six months if the tenant can show inability to pay, and the eviction is based on non-payment for rent that came due during or six months after the moratorium ends.
Does the exact language in the eviction notices matter? Will the judge really throw out my eviction case, even though the tenant owes me money, if I use the wrong form?
Yes, the language matters and the court will dismiss your eviction case on procedural grounds–no matter how deserving on the merits–if the language is wrong.
Some documents, such as the 14-day notice, must be in the exact verbiage required by statute. In some local jurisdictions, such as Federal Way and Seattle, additional specific language must be in the notice. Most other eviction documents, while the exact language is not mandated, must have certain types of information.
Some eviction documents were changed in 2019, and then changed again in 2020. Local laws changed in both 2019 and in 2020 requiring additional specific language.
We see some multi-state websites that show up in Google results with form generators that create notice forms that will not hold up in Washington courts.
Be sure to use forms created by a local landlord-tenant attorney. The eviction forms on this website were created by a Washington landlord-tenant attorney practicing in King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Thurston counties and are up-to-date.
The federal eviction moratorium applies to properties with federally back loans, and to Section 8 tenants. The federal moratorium prohibits evictions for non-payment of rent and other charges through July 24. After that date landlord will have to serve a 30-day notice.
The federal eviction moratorium does not prohibit eviction on other grounds. However, state and local moratoriums do and they still apply.
Under the governor’s moratorium, you must attach a sworn declaration if the eviction is on the grounds the tenant is creating a significant and immediate threat to health, safety, or property.
In King County, you currently have to file declarations during the eviction process to establish an exception to the eviction moratorium and show you have attempted to mediate the dispute.
If you intend to personally move into your rental as your primary residence, or if you intend to sell it you may give 60 days’ notice to month-to-month tenants.
The date of termination must be the last day of a rental period (not 60 days from the current date).
The notice must be served at least 60 in advance.
The owner must also comply with local laws which may require longer notice periods.
No. The state-wide eviction moratorium does not prevent commercial evictions. Its does prohibit rent increases if the business is impacted by COVID-19.
There are local eviction moratoriums that apply to commercial properties. Check with an attorney if unsure.
Under the governor’s moratorium, landlords may not treat unpaid rent or other charges as amounts owing if the nonpayment was a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and occurred on or after February 29, 2020. This rule prohibits, among other things, invoicing or withholding amounts from the security deposit.
This rule does not apply if the landlord offers and the resident refused or failed to comply with a payment plan that was reasonable based on the resident’s financial, health, and other circumstances.
My tenant has money but refuses to pay rent. Since the failure to pay is not COVID related, can I evict?
Tenants owe rent, but you cannot evict them during the moratorium even of they simply refuse to pay.