Washington State

House of Representatives

Office of Program Research



Judiciary Committee

HB 1305

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

Title: An act relating to unlawful entry on certain properties.

Brief Description: Concerning unlawful entry on certain properties.

Sponsors: Representatives Barkis, Kirby, Klippert, Stambaugh and Haler.

Brief Summary of Bill

  • Establishes a process for an owner of property, by means of a declaration signed under penalty of perjury, to request law enforcement to remove unauthorized persons from premises.

  • Provides that law enforcement shall not be held liable for actions or omissions made in good faith, and further provides that the declarant shall agree to indemnify and hold law enforcement harmless.

  • Allows persons removed from premises on the basis of false statements to pursue an action against the declarant for the full amount of damages, costs, and reasonable attorneys' fees.

Hearing Date: 1/25/17

Staff: Cece Clynch (786-7195).


Criminal Trespass.

Knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully in a building is Criminal Trespass in the first degree, a gross misdemeanor. A person is guilty of Criminal Trespass in the second degree if he or she knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises of another under circumstances not constituting Criminal Trespass in the first degree. Criminal Trespass in the second degree is a misdemeanor.

A person "enters or remains unlawfully" in or upon premises when he or she is not licensed, invited, or privileged to enter or remain. A license or privilege to enter or remain in a building which is only partly open to the public is not a license or privilege to enter or remain in a part of a building which is not open to the public. "Premises" includes any building, dwelling, structure used for commercial aquaculture, or any real property.

In a prosecution for Criminal Trespass in the first or second degree, it is a defense that:

Unlawful Detainer.

Washington's Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (RLTA) governs the relationship between landlords and tenants of residential dwelling units, establishes each parties' duties, and establishes procedures for each side to enforce their rights. The RLTA prohibits a landlord from removing or excluding a tenant from the premises except via a court order which so authorizes. It is also unlawful for a landlord to intentionally cause termination of a tenant's utility services unless it is necessary to make repairs, and then only for a reasonable time necessary for the repairs.

The initial step of the remedial process which landlords may use to address tenant noncompliance varies depending upon the duty at issue. With respect to failure to pay rent in a timely fashion, the landlord may begin the process by utilizing a three-day notice to pay or vacate. If the tenant pays in full within the three days, the landlord must stop the process. Some breaches, such as breach of a no-pet-rule, require a 10-day notice to comply or vacate. Permanently damaging the property or engaging in drug-related or gang-related activity may be addressed by a three-day notice to vacate. With respect to these latter violations, the landlord is not required to allow the tenant to correct the problem and stay.

In the event that a tenant fails to comply with a notice to comply or vacate, or after a notice to vacate has been served on a tenant or someone unlawfully holding the premises, the landlord may utilize the RLTA's court process, called an unlawful detainer action, in order to accomplish eviction. The landlord must serve the defendant with a summons and complaint of the unlawful detainer action, and the defendant has the opportunity to respond. If the court issues a writ of restitution (order directing the sheriff to physically evict), the sheriff must serve a copy of the writ, informing the defendant that he or she can be physically removed from the premises after a certain date.

An unlawful detainer action commenced as a result of a trustee's sale under the Deed of Trust Act (DOTA) must also comply with notice provisions found in the DOTA.

Forcible and Unlawful Detainer.

A three-day notice to vacate is also the first step in a process aimed at evicting a person who, without the permission of the owner and without having color of title thereto, enters on land of another. Such a person may also be subject to prosecution for criminal trespass.

"Tenant by Sufferance".

Whenever a person obtains possession of premises without consent of the owner or another person having the right to give possession, the person is deemed a "tenant by sufferance." A tenant by sufferance is liable to pay reasonable rent for the actual time of occupancy and must, on demand, surrender possession. All right to possession terminates immediately upon demand. The chapter in which this statute is located is explicitly not applicable to any rental agreement included under the RLTA.

Summary of Bill:

The owner of premises, or his or her agent, may initiate the investigation and request the removal of unauthorized persons from premises by providing to law enforcement a declaration, declaring under penalty of perjury that:

Upon receipt of such a declaration signed under penalty of perjury and containing all of the required information, a peace officer shall have the authority to remove the persons from the premises, with or without arresting them, and order them to remain off the premises or be subject to arrest for criminal trespass. Neither the peace officer nor his or her law enforcement agency shall be held liable for actions or omissions made in good faith under this provision.

Persons removed from premises on the basis of false statements in such a declaration shall have a cause of action to recover, from the declarant, the full amount of damages caused thereby, together with costs and reasonable attorneys' fees.

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Not requested.

Effective Date: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.