Termination Dispute Guidelines and Documents

King County Superior Court Summons

Send an email to Housing Justice Project at hjpstaff@kcba.org with a copy of your summons. Make sure you put your name and contact info in the email. If you want to file a response to the summons yourself here is a pro se doc.


Download Court Summons Document

Notice to Pay Rent or Vacate - Eviction Process Step 1

You are currently on Step 1 of the eviction process, called the notice phase. It’s called this because you have received a Notice to Pay or Vacate and have a specific amount of time to act. At this stage you can take the following actions:

  • Pay the amount owed. The landlord may require that you pay rent and any other amount listed in the Pay or Vacate Notice. If you can pay everything that is owed, including current charges, the landlord is required to take the money and stop the eviction.
  • Seek help paying your rent. You can try calling 211 to ask for a list of organizations providing rental assistance. Apply for the waitlist at https://www.uwkc.org/renthelp/
  • Dispute the amount owed: If you think you do not owe this amount, you can ask your landlord for more detail about what the charges are for or ask for a ledger. Review the information and determine if the charges are accurate.
  • Negotiate an agreement with your landlord to move out: If you would rather leave your apartment and find a different place to live, you can ask your landlord to negotiate a Mutual Termination of your tenancy. We are attaching a template you can use and a document to help you remember all of the important steps to moving out. If you do not move out when you agree to, you may be in violation of the agreement and your landlord may file for an eviction in court.
  • Offer your landlord a payment plan: Landlords are required to offer you a reasonable payment plan for rent accrued through April 2023, but not afterward. If you believe that you can catch up on back rent with a payment plan agreement, you can offer one to your landlord. Attached to this email is a sample you can use.

Download Notice to Pay Rent or Vacate Document


Summons and Complaint - Eviction Process Step 2

If you are not able to resolve the issue by the end of the time period identified in the Notice to Pay or Vacate, the landlord will likely move on to Step 2 of the eviction process, where you get a Summons and Complaint. If you get a Summons and Complaint:

  • The landlord must have you served with the paperwork by either (1) handing it to you or (2) posting in on your door and mailing it to you. Emailing it to you is not enough.
    • Check for papers posted to your door and check your mailbox.
    • If you go to the hospital, ask neighbor to check your door for paperwork or email the landlord to tell them where you are.
  • Respond by the date listed on the paperwork. The Summons will tell you how to respond. If you do not respond, the landlord can seek a court order saying you automatically lost and asking the sheriff to come remove you from your rental.
  • Call the King County Tenant’s Hotline Back right away at: 206-580-0762
    You may qualify for a free attorney who can help you respond to the paperwork and defend against the eviction.
  • If you respond to the paperwork, the landlord will set a court date called a “show cause” hearing. The landlord cannot make you leave unless the Court issues a writ of restitution at the hearing.

Notice to Comply or Vacate

Download Notice to Comply or Vacate Document


Habitability Issues

These are the things that qualify as habitability issues:

  • Structural members that are of insufficient size or strength to carry imposed loads with safety
  • Exposure of the tenants to the weather
  • Plumbing and sanitation defects that directly expose the occupants to the risk of illness or injury
  • Lack of running water or hot water
  • Heating or ventilation systems that are not functional or are hazardous
  • Defective, hazardous, or missing electrical wiring or service
  • Defective or inadequate exits that increase the risk of injury to occupants, and
  • conditions that increase the risk of fire, RCW 59.18.115(2)(a)

If you have a habitability issue, you must notify your landlord in writing – this does not include an email, text, or website portal submission: “The tenant shall give notice in writing to the landlord specifying the conditions, acts, omissions, or violations. Such notice shall be sent to the landlord or to the person or place where rent is normally paid.” RCW 59.18.115(2)(A).

You must sign and copy your letter and hand-deliver it to the landlord or wherever rent gets paid. If that isn’t possible, it should be posted and mailed or mailed regular first-class and certified.

Download Habitability Issue Template Letter

There is a time period for the landlord to address the problem: 24 hours to repair something that causes a health/safety issue, 3 days to address a non-working appliance, and 10 days for all other problems. Once the appropriate time period has elapsed, you need to contact your city’s Building Department and have Code Compliance inspect the property within 5 days of making the request. In Seattle, it is Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections.

Contact Us
King County Tenant Resource Line: 
(206) 580-0762
9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
For general inquiries or volunteer opportunities, E-mail Us!

Important Documents to Download