Defenses to Eviction in Washington State
Many people believe that landlords have all the power in an eviction case. However, tenants have certain legal defenses available to them depending on the circumstances of their situation. The following are examples of tenant defenses. An experienced Tacoma eviction lawyer can tell you which ones may apply in your case.
Landlord used “self-help” eviction means – Even if a tenant has refused to pay rent or has violated other terms of the lease, a landlord does not have the right to break the lease agreement and evict the tenant on their own. For instance, a landlord cannot change the locks, have utilities turned off, or remove the tenant’s belongings to force them out. This is called “self-help” eviction and is against the law. The only way to seek a legal eviction is by getting an order from the court.
No notice given of court action – Washington laws require that a landlord give a tenant notice that they plan to initiate court action so the tenant can try to rectify the situation if they wish. If a tenant has not paid rent, the landlord must provide three days of notice to allow the tenant to pay. If the eviction is due to another violation of the lease agreement, ten days notice must be provided. If no notice is provided, the case may be dismissed for failing to follow the proper procedures procedures.
Landlord did not repair the property – If a tenant gives notice of necessary repairs and the landlord fails to repair the problem, the tenant has the right to withhold rent under Washington law1 and use the failure as a defense against eviction due to non-payment.
Eviction is based on retaliation or discrimination – A landlord cannot evict a tenant in retaliation of the tenant exercising a legal right, such as reporting a health or safety violation in the building to the proper authorities. In addition, a landlord cannot evict an individual or family based on race, religion, national origin, gender, disability, or familial status under the Fair Housing Act.2
If you are facing an eviction case, please do not hesitate to call an experienced Tacoma eviction lawyer at the Dickson Frohlich at 253-572-1000 for help today.