May 5, 2015
by LaRee L. Beck
RCO Legal, P.S.
USFN Member (Arkansas, Oregon, Washington)
In Washington (upon the PTFA’s expiration), the notice requirements afforded tenants, following foreclosure of an occupied premises, are outlined in Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 61.24.146 and 61.24.060. Washington law differs from the PTFA in that a determination as to a tenant’s “bona fide” status is not required because “tenant” is more loosely defined.
Pursuant to the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, RCW Chapter 59.18, a tenant is defined as “any person who is entitled to occupy a dwelling unit primarily for living or dwelling purposes under a rental agreement.” The tenant is only afforded 60 days’ written notice to vacate the premises. It is entirely within the new owner’s discretion to negotiate a new rental agreement with the existing tenant, or simply terminate his or her tenancy. RCW 61.24.060(2) sets forth how the notice to the tenant is to be given, and includes specific language that must be included in the written notice to vacate. All notices are to be sent by first-class mail and either certified or registered mail, return receipt requested.
If the occupancy status of the parties residing on the premises is unknown, it is best to include language in the notice to vacate referencing the new owner’s right to possession on the twentieth day following sale (for non-tenant situations) per RCW 61.24.060(1), in addition to the tenant’s notice language as described above. For foreclosure sales that occurred prior to the PTFA’s sunset date — December 31, 2014 — it may be advisable to use a combination notice, which states that the PTFA may apply to the occupant’s tenancy, and includes the alternate 90-day notice-to-vacate language of the PTFA, as well as a request for additional documentation from any purported tenant.
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