TMLG Wins Appeal in Tenant Rights Case
Eva Moore and Brooke Shaw rented an apartment together in King County. In 2016, their landlord attempted to evict them using a procedure that does not require a court hearing. They received a document stating that they had just seven days to either (1) pay all of the back rent that the landlord alleged they owed or (2) file a statement saying they didn’t owe the rent. When they couldn’t do either one, they were served with a writ of restitution that allowed the King County Sheriff to evict them a few days later, without ever being able to present their side of the story at a hearing. If a hearing had been held, they would have been able to tell the judge that they were temporarily disabled and request a reasonable schedule for paying off their back rent. The lack of a hearing meant that they never had that opportunity.
Ms. Moore and Ms. Shaw are not alone. Every year, thousands of King County tenants (and many more throughout the state) are evicted under this procedure, RCW 59.18.375.
TMLG, along with Rory O’Sullivan (formerly with the King County Bar Association’s Housing Justice Project), filed suit in July 2016, seeking a declaration that this eviction procedure is unconstitutional because it allows tenants to be evicted without due process as well as an injunction to stop the unlawful evictions. The defendant moved to dismiss, citing a variety of legal theories in support of its motion. In December 2016, the district court granted the defendant’s motion and dismissed the case. Plaintiffs appealed that decision.
Earlier this month, the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s order dismissing the case. Plaintiffs will now be able to go back to the district court to proceed with litigation and protect the rights of Washington tenants.