Unlawful Detainer Show Cause Hearings in South King County Now 8 Months Out

March 8, 2024

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, booking a show cause hearing at the King County Superior Court in Kent took 4-6 weeks. Show cause hearings are the first step in the unlawful detainer (eviction) process in Washington State. However, the unlawful detainer process typically lasts at least another month after a show cause hearing before a judgment can be reached in court. By the time a writ of restitution is ordered and an appointment with the sheriff's office can be scheduled, several more months will have passed.

As of Thursday, March 7th, 2024, the next available Ex-Parte show cause hearing at the Superior Court in Kent is November 19th, over 8 months out! This means that if a resident stopped paying rent today (March 7th), by the time the housing provider served the required notices and filed the summons and complaint, the first court appearance for that case would most likely take place no earlier than 2025. During that time, the housing provider would not be able to take even partial payments for rent without risking their unlawful detainer case being thrown out.

This also means that a housing provider may have to wait a full year to receive a judgment on their case. Even when a housing provider receives a judgment, there is no guarantee that they will be compensated for any of the unpaid rent that had accumulated over the time it took for the unlawful detainer process to play out.

In our 23 years of operations, we have never seen such a long wait time to file an Ex-Parte show cause hearing in the King County Superior Court in Kent. Research shows that, although unlawful detainer cases have ramped up after pandemic-era protections were lifted in King County, the number of filings is still below pre-pandemic levels. The Court provided no explanation about this delay and did not respond to requests for comment.

Senator Mark Mullet ran a bill called SB 6210 during the 2024 legislative session in January which would have allowed attorneys to act as commissioners if the caseloads ever too overloaded. Public testimony for the bill included warnings that the system was already experiencing long wait times. SB 6210 was designed to prevent an overloading of the courts like we are now seeing, but it died in the Senate Housing Committee.

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LandlordSolutions does not provide legal advice. The information we provide is general information for landlords. If you need legal advice or have questions about the application of the law in a particular matter, you should consult a lawyer.

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