Tenants Must Notify Landlords When Asking the Court to Stop an Eviction

In October 2017, the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division 2 ruled on the proper procedures for a tenant to temporarily halt an eviction. The case was Randy Reynolds & Associates, Inc. v. Harmon, 1 Wn. App. 2d 239, 404 P.3d 602 (2017).

The landlord, Reynolds, was attempting to evict Harmon, the tenant. When Harmon failed to answer Reynolds’ eviction complaint, the court granted a writ of restitution (eviction) allowing Reynolds to proceed with evicting Harmon through the county sheriff. Three days later, Harmon appeared in court without any notice to Reynolds. Harmon asked the court to temporarily stop Reynolds’ court-ordered eviction. The court agreed and signed a pre-printed form similar to those routinely used in these situations in King County Superior Court. This form waived the requirement for Harmon to post a bond in exchange for successfully postponing the eviction.

The Court of Appeals first ruled that the lower court should not have heard Harmon’s request to stop the eviction because no notice was provided to Reynolds. Requests to temporarily thwart evictions ultimately provide the prevailing party with an advantage in the case, either the landlord can move forward with the eviction or the tenant can remain on the property. For this reason, it is important that both parties are aware of the request and receive proper notice.

The Court then found that the lower court should not have waived Harmon’s requirement to post a bond because Reynolds did not receive notice. RCW 59.18.390(1) entitles landlords to notice of a bond hearing so he or she can argue the adequacy of the bond. Based on this statute, the Court of Appeals ruled that landlords must also receive notice of a hearing to waive the bond entirely. Accordingly, the form generally used in matters postponing an eviction must be revised if used by the court and if the landlord does not receive notice of the hearing.

Evictions are serious matters whether you are the landlord or the tenant. Following the applicable statutes, rules, and procedures will better ensure you receive your desired outcome. If you have any questions or concerns about these requirements or any other landlord/tenant issues, please feel free reach out to the attorneys at Holmquist & Gardiner, PLLC.  

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