Can I Be Evicted If I Don’t Have a Tenancy Agreement?

You may live on a property and pay rent based on a verbal agreement you and the landlord have. Or you may live with someone else, and their name is the only one on the lease. In these instances, you may wonder if you can legally be evicted by your landlord?

The answer is yes. Verbal tenancy agreements are legally considered month-to-month tenancies, and under this form of tenancy, you can be evicted, or your agreement can be terminated as long as your landlord adheres to eviction laws and procedures and is not asking you to leave for illegal reasons.

Terminating Your Agreement

Rather than evict you, a landlord can evict remove their tenant by choosing to not continue their lease agreement. In these cases, a tenant must be given 20 days (or more) written notice to vacate. This notice can be no cause, and if a tenant fails to leave the property before the notice period expires, the landlord can decide to proceed with the eviction process (which we will discuss in more detail later).

However, landlords must provide more days’ notice if they are terminating your agreement or changing the policy concerning:

  • Whether children are allowed on the premise. If the landlord plans to exclude children from living on the property (and changes these terms), tenants must receive written notice 90 days before the end of their tenancy.
  • The form of ownership. If the property will be changed from an apartment to a condominium form of ownership, tenants must receive their written notice 120 days before the end of their tenancy.
  • Plans to demolish or renovate the property. If the landlord wants complete renovations (i.e. structural repairs, extensive remodeling, etc.) or demolish their rental property, tenants must receive their written notice (to vacate) 120 days (or more) before their tenancy ends.

It is also important to note that tenants may receive less notice in certain circumstances, including but not limited to failing to pay rent, violating the terms of your agreement, or committing a crime.

The Eviction Process

Once you receive a notice from your landlord, the eviction process has begun. The process is then as follows.

  • Your landlord will then file a complaint at the appropriate court, and you (the tenant) should be served.
  • You should then file a written response to the landlord’s complaint. (Failure to respond can result in a default judgment ruling in favor of the landlord, which will be you will have to move out without a hearing.)
  • A hearing will be scheduled, and either the landlord or tenant can request a jury trial (which can take more time).
  • A judgment (decision) will be made.
  • If the ruling is in the landlord’s favor, a writ of restitution will be issued. The writ of restitution is your final notice to leave the rental property. You will have three to five days to move out, and if you fail to leave before the deadline expires, you can be forcibly removed by the police.

How long the eviction process takes is entirely dependent on your case specifics. Your attorney can best prepare you for how long your case may take to conclude.

Get Legal Help Today

Landlord-tenant law is extremely complex, which is why you must retain a reliable attorney if you are facing an eviction. With the help of a knowledgeable attorney, a tenant can develop a solid legal defense strategy against eviction actions, including but not limited to:

  • Their landlord failed to follow proper eviction procedures. If a landlord fails to follow the rules and laws concerning eviction (i.e. offering a certain number of days of notice, etc.), your case may be dismissed. However, this only allows the tenant to have more time to remain in the unit, because if they have a justifiable reason for evicting the tenant, the landlord can restart the eviction process adhering to the proper procedures.
  • The landlord evicted the tenant using “self-help” methods. A landlord cannot try to force a tenant to leave by using “self-help” strategies, which include cutting off the utilities and/or changing the locks. A tenant can be owed damages (compensation) if the landlord tried to remove the tenant using unlawful means or without a court order (see RCW § 59.18.300 and § 29.18.290).
  • Their landlord is evicting them for retaliatory reasons. A landlord must have a good faith reason to evict tenants, and they cannot evict a tenant to retaliate after a tenant has made a legal complaint about the landlord or property or has asserted their legal rights based on tenant laws (RCW § 59.18.240 and § 59.18.250).
  • Their landlord is evicting them for discriminatory reasons. A landlord cannot terminate your agreement or seek an eviction based on discrimination (against a tenet’s race, religion, nationality, gender, familial status, or disability). Discriminating against a tenant is illegal under the federal Fair Housing Act.

At Dore Law Group, PLLC, our Washington State eviction attorney has over 30 years of legal experience and is prepared to help tenants protect their legal rights. Known for our client-focused, individualized case approach, we offer clients aggressive legal representation.

Schedule a free, zero-obligation consultation today by contacting us online or at (253) 236-3888. You can trust that we will work in your best interest and do everything in our power to help you achieve favorable case results.

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