How to Legally Evict a Squatter Washington State

How to Legally Evict a Squatter in Washington State

Squatting, the act of occupying a property without permission, can be a serious problem for property owners. It can lead to property damage, loss of rental income, and legal complications. If you find yourself dealing with a squatter in Washington State, it is essential to understand the legal process for eviction to protect your rights as a property owner. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to legally evict a squatter in Washington State.

1. Establish Your Ownership: Before initiating the eviction process, ensure that you can prove your ownership of the property. Gather all relevant documents, such as deeds, titles, or lease agreements, that establish your legal right to the property.

2. Contact Law Enforcement: In Washington State, squatting is considered a civil matter, not a criminal offense. However, contacting law enforcement is still necessary to establish the squatter’s presence and document the situation. File a police report and provide any evidence of the squatting, such as photographs or witness statements.

3. Serve an Eviction Notice: You must serve the squatter with a written eviction notice. In Washington State, the notice must include specific information, such as the address of the property, the reason for eviction, and a deadline for the squatter to vacate the premises. The notice must be served personally or posted conspicuously on the property.

4. File an Unlawful Detainer Lawsuit: If the squatter refuses to leave after receiving the eviction notice, you must file an unlawful detainer lawsuit in court. This legal action initiates the formal eviction process. Consult an attorney to ensure proper filing and documentation.

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5. Attend the Court Hearing: After filing the unlawful detainer lawsuit, a court hearing will be scheduled. Both you and the squatter must attend the hearing. Present your evidence, including the eviction notice and any supporting documents, to demonstrate your right to possession of the property.

6. Obtain a Writ of Restitution: If the court rules in your favor, it will issue a writ of restitution, allowing law enforcement to forcibly remove the squatter if they still refuse to leave. However, the squatter may have a limited time to appeal the court’s decision.

7. Enforce the Writ of Restitution: Once you receive the writ of restitution, contact the local sheriff’s office to schedule the eviction. The sheriff’s office will coordinate a date and time to execute the eviction and remove the squatter from the property.


1. Can I physically remove a squatter from my property?
No, as a property owner, you cannot use force or physically remove a squatter yourself. You must follow the legal eviction process outlined above.

2. How long does the eviction process take in Washington State?
The timeline can vary depending on court availability and the squatter’s cooperation. Generally, the process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

3. What if the squatter claims they have rights to the property?
If the squatter claims they have a legal right to the property, such as a lease agreement or adverse possession, consult an attorney immediately to evaluate their claim and guide you through the process.

4. What if the squatter causes damage to my property?
If the squatter causes damage to your property, document the damage with photographs and contact your insurance company. You may be able to file a claim for the damages.

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5. Can I change the locks to keep the squatter out?
No, changing the locks without following the legal eviction process is illegal and may result in legal consequences for you as the property owner.

6. Can I negotiate with the squatter to leave peacefully?
While negotiation is an option, it is advisable to consult an attorney before engaging in any discussions with the squatter. They can guide you on the best course of action to protect your rights.

7. What can I do to prevent squatting in the future?
To prevent squatting, ensure your property is adequately secured and monitored. Regularly inspect your property and promptly address any signs of unauthorized entry. Consider installing security systems or hiring property management services to prevent and detect squatting incidents.

Dealing with a squatter can be a stressful and time-consuming process. It is crucial to follow the legal eviction process to protect your rights as a property owner in Washington State. Consult with an attorney specializing in real estate law to ensure you navigate the process correctly and effectively.