A notice to terminate tenancy may only be used to terminate a month to month tenancy. It does not terminate an unexpired lease. A landlord may not terminate an unexpired lease, for example, because the landlord is selling the property or wants to move into the property.
Although often referred to as a “twenty-day” notice, the legally required notice period may be longer than twenty days under local law, or under the terms of the lease. For example, Tacoma requires 60 days notice for residential tenancies. Seattle requires longer notice periods for some grounds, such as selling the property. Many leases, especially commercial leases, require longer notice periods.
The notice to terminate tenancy must terminate the tenancy as of the end of the last day of a rental period (typically the last day of a calendar month), and must be served at least twenty days in advance (or other applicable minimum period). The date of termination is not calculated by adding the required number of days to the date it is served.
The landlord may not change the locks or call the sheriff at the end of the termination period. After the termination date if the tenants still have not vacated, the landlord must go through the same eviction court process as for a notice to pay rent or vacate and/or notice to comply or vacate.
The notice to terminate tenancy is not the next step in a process followed after a notice to pay rent or vacate and/or notice to comply or vacate. These are all different notices, for different purposes.
In Seattle all residential tenancies, including month to month tenancies, require just cause.