In Washington State the law refers to an eviction action as an “unlawful detainer” action. Various states refer to this type of action with different names. An unlawful detainer action may occur in a residential landlord/tenant situation or a commercial landlord/tenant situation. The outcomes that may be obtained may be different, but the process is similar.

An unlawful detainer action is the legal process by which a residential or commercial landlord evicts a tenant for, in many cases, their failure to pay rent. A tenant’s failure to comply with the terms of a lease or rental agreement may also provide the basis of an unlawful detainer action. McFerran Law has, for over the last 35 years, represented both residential and commercial landlords as well as commercial tenants. We do not represent residential tenants in our practice.

This is a rapidly changing area of the law occasioned by changes in the laws associated with, primarily, residential tenancies. In the state of Washington, the “Residential Landlord-Tenant Act” provides a basic framework of laws affecting residential landlords and tenants. However, that law, while being statewide, may be modified and supplemented by local municipalities including cities (like Seattle for example) causing a host of slightly different laws in different areas of the state that require a real estate attorney to be at the top of his or her game in order to be certain which law is affecting which property.

Notifying a tenant under the various laws and serving them with court papers is not adequate to assure the tenants’ leaving the property. This is not a “DIY” area of real estate practice!

Many years ago, it was far less complicated than it is today and, in some cases, residential landlords who had the time could handle their own eviction actions. It was, however, not for the faint of heart. Most landlords quickly realized that it was more cost-effective to have a seasoned eviction attorney who does a goodly number of cases daily handle these pesky matters. Today with a patchwork quilt of overlapping rules, a landlord needs to have an attorney who knows all the various laws affecting the various cities, counties and municipalities where landlords do business.

We offer clients counseling and representation throughout the unlawful detainer process. This includes drafting and service of required pre-eviction action notices; preparing unlawful detainer summons, complaints and responses. We make certain that defendants are properly and timely served, requesting trial if necessary and obtaining judgments and writs of restitution if required. However, we are not done yet. Our office coordinates with the sheriff to actually remove the defaulting tenant from the premises forcefully if necessary.

We have experienced attorneys representing landlords in the western Washington area in order to provide you the most cost-effective method of dealing with your landlord-tenant matter.

Reasons to Evict a Tenant

There is no short answer regarding reasons to evict a tenant. Generally, a landlord can evict a tenant for failure to pay rent or violating a term of the lease or rental agreement. Typically, the lawsuit will have to give the tenant the opportunity to cure the default (non-payments of rent or a violation of lease terms for example), but each case is unique.

The initial analysis is always to determine for our client if they have a valid legal basis to move forward and to determine the best legal remedy in each situation.


There are Typically Two Reasons to Evict

First, there are evictions based upon non-payment of rent. These are the most common and most straightforward reason for eviction as defenses by the defaulting tenant are somewhat limited.

Second, there are evictions based upon a violation or breach of a covenant on term of the lease agreement. These are more complicated because they involve higher levels of proof or evidence that the tenant violated or did not cure a provision of the lease.

Length of Time to Complete an Eviction in Washington

Prior to the onslaught of Covid-19, one could predict the length of time it would take to complete an eviction action in various locations around the state. That all changed as the governor during extended periods precluded residential evictions from occurring. Commercial evictions were not precluded during the pandemic.

Most cases are still undisputed and arise from nonpayment of rent. Our attorneys suggest that you contact one of our eviction attorneys right at the stage of initial default as certain notices are required in order to proceed with an eviction and these notices have changed during the recent pandemic period.

As the court settled back to a more business as usual stance, landlords can expect 4 to 6 weeks to complete a typical undisputed eviction. If it results in a valid dispute requiring a formal court hearing, the. Could easily extend to six months. You need a competent and aggressive attorney to assist you in today’s legal atmosphere.

In the commercial area, one has even greater need to retain counsel from the first default. Actions in commercial evictions do not have the same Statutory methods that can assist a residential landlord in moving an eviction action forward quickly. Our attorneys are experienced in all the roadblocks raised by commercial tenants. We are aggressive in eliminating those obstacles and getting possession of the property back in the hands of the landlord promptly.

Costs Associated with Eviction Matters

Our eviction attorneys at McFerran Law handle a myriad of eviction actions day in and day out as part of our real estate practice. Our attorneys are down at the courthouse daily handling multiple cases and gaining an economy of scale that allows us to in most cases to quote a client a fixed fee for an eviction action.

However, there are also a myriad of costs like filing fees, sheriff fees, writ fees that are, in many cases, in excess of our small attorney fee. We can help you control and budget those costs as well.

We Welcome the Opportunity to Consult with You on Your Eviction Matter

Our eviction attorneys at McFerran Law always have slots open in their daily schedule to meet with clients on new real estate matters. In many cases that one initial consultation can address all the needs of a client on a particular real estate, business, probate or tax deferred exchange matter.

We do not provide free consultations (except in the 1031 tax deferred exchange practice area). We pride ourselves that a single initial one-hour consultation will provide most clients all the information they need to move forward with their legal matter. We don’t have to research, investigate or learn about real estate law matters. Our attorneys can answer on the spot in that initial consultation most real estate questions you may have as they have over 35 years of experience. They only do real estate and matters related to real estate!


McFerran Law has a Special $150 New Matter Consultation Rate 

Our eviction attorneys can meet with you by phone, Zoom or in our office for an up to a one-hour time period to go over, in detail, your legal matter and generally provide you valuable legal information to assist you in your individual situation. If your matter will require additional services, your attorney will generally be able to provide you an estimate for such services as well.


It is Easy to Set Up an Initial Consultation with McFerran Law

Just call our offices at (253) 471-1200; or email us on our contact page, or text us at (253) 405-7637 and we will schedule a one-hour consultation for you. You will not need to wait weeks or longer to meet with one of our attorneys as we block out a number of appointment options daily. We know that being quickly responsive to your real estate needs is important to you.

Contact Us

Call or email us to schedule an appointment or ask a question.