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Ask CalAttorney2 Your Own Question
CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing both landlords and tenants in residential and commercial property disputes.
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My mother refuses to pay rent or utilities house I own.

Customer Question

My mother refuses to pay rent or utilities for a house I own. I need to remove my furniture and personal belonging before I evict her? Can she deny me access to the house?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.
Dear Customer, thank you for using our service. I would like to assist you today. Responses may have a short delay for review and research.
You have a right to enter the property with appropriate notice. However, you cannot remove the furniture (doing so constitutes an "illegal eviction" and you will both end up having to allow her to stay longer, and potentially owing her more money).
To get her out of the property you need to go through the following process (even though she isn't paying rent and you don't have a formal lease agreement):
Terminating a tenancy-
1) Notice: The first step in any termination is giving notice, the landlord can simply give notice that they no longer want the tenant to live there (this is usually 30 days, or 60 days, and it can be done for no reason whatsoever, there is no fault, and while the tenant must relocate, they are not being "evicted" and there is no blemish on their rental history), they can give a "notice to pay or quit" (usually 3 day or 5 day depending on the state, and the tenant has this amount of time to pay rent that they missed or move out), "notice to "cure or quit" (the tenant has breached the lease - broken something, noisy, etc. and must stop it or fix it within the notice period, again 3 days, 5 days, or 10 days), or a "notice to quit" (this is a 3 day or 5 day notice that says the tenant has messed up so badly they can do nothing but move out within the notice period - there is no chance to "cure" - this often happens when there is illegal activity on the property).
2) Unlawful detainer/forcible entry and detainer (this is the legal proceeding where the landlord goes to court and sues the tenant to get possession - the tenant has an opportunity to appear and defend the action, common defenses include improper notice, breach of the lease (such as failure to maintain the property - "inhabitable conditions"). If the tenant answers the complaint, the parties can take "discovery" from one another and get additional information before a court trial before a judge.
3) A judgment of possession/writ of eviction - if the landlord wins the trial, they get a judgment of possession and the court will issue a "writ of eviction."
4) Forcible eviction - this happens when the Sheriff or Constable serves the writ of eviction - some jurisdictions give a courtesy notice the day or two before the eviction, others do not, but the end result is the sheriff overseeing the landlord's movers removing all of the tenant's possessions from the property and placing them on the curb, and the tenants are forcibly removed from the property. At that point, the landlord can change the locks and the tenant can no longer return (They have been "evicted").
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I have all my personal stuff in a bedroom with the door locked with a paddle lock? Is the laws all the same for all states? I live in Washington state.

Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.
You can enter and remove your personal property that is separate from the common area that your mother (for these purposes, "your tenant") is occupying and using.
You cannot remove the furnishings that she is using. (My apologies for the confusion).
The King County Law library has a very helpful website for unlawful detainer actions, they also sell a packet for landlords (the packet is specific to King County, but it can be modified for use in any county in Washington state):
Another site that some landlords like to use (again, this is another paid site, but it has everything in one spot), can be found here:
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Do you know the regulatory item number relating to the right to my personal property?

Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.
The landlord's right of entry in Washington is codified here:
There isn't a statutory section regarding your personal property rights - this is going to be protected under personal property laws, you are permitted to enter under the above statute, and you can recover your personal private property.
You cannot take "self help" measures - such as cutting off power, or removing the furniture or appliances - or it will be deemed an "illegal eviction" (so that is where the distinction comes between removing your personal belongings kept in a separate locked room, and removing the furniture from the common areas.

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