KCHA v. Knight

What Landlords Need to Know About This Recent Appellate Court Ruling


The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) was enacted to provide economic relief during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. CARES Act covered properties include properties with federally-backed mortgage loans. The CARES Act provides required notice periods, stating that a landlord “may not require the tenant to vacate the covered dwelling unit before the date that is 30 days after the date on which the lessor provides the tenant with a notice to vacate.” Section 4024 of the CARES Act.

Over the past year, Washington courts have interpreted the CARES Act to require a minimum of 30-days’ notice to tenants at CARES Act covered properties for all notices. This interpretation is largely based on the case of Sherwood Auburn LLC v. Pinzon, 24 Wn. App. 2d 664, 521 P.3d 212 (2022), review denied, 1 Wn.3d 1005 (2023). Courts determined that evictions based on criminal or nuisance conduct and evictions based on material breach of lease both required a 30-day notice. Prior to this new wave of interpretation, landlords were able to issue a 3-day notice for criminal or nuisance conduct, and a 10-day notice for material breach of lease.

KCHA v. Knight Holding

Earlier this year, landlord-tenant attorneys at Montgomery Purdue successfully appealed this issue in King County Housing Authority v. Knight, Court of Appeals Division I, Case No. 85031-8-I.   In this ruling, Division I of the Court of Appeals held that “the CARES Act requires [a 30-day notice] only for evictions stemming from a tenant’s nonpayment of rent.”

What does this mean for landlords?

For landlords, this holding is a huge relief. It means that many landlords in King, Snohomish, and other northwestern Washington counties can begin using 3-day and 10-day notices, regardless of whether their property is covered by the CARES Act. Evictions based on criminal or nuisance conduct and material breach of lease will no longer need to wait 30 days to proceed with the eviction process.

It is important to note that certain local jurisdictions, such as Unincorporated King County, may still require a 30-day day notice for criminal, nuisance, and/or lease breach notices by operation of local law. Please also note that Division II of the Court of Appeals issued a ruling in January 2024 in Pendleton Place, LLC v. Asentista, Case No. 58118-3-II, which held the opposite of Division I in the KCHA v. Knight appeal. This means that the lower courts of Division II (including those in Pierce, Thurston, Mason, Kitsap, Jefferson, Grays Harbor, Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, Pacific, Skamania and Wahkiakum counties) may continue to require a 30-day notice for criminal, nuisance, and/or lease breach-based notices. However, the Asentista case relied heavily upon a prior ruling in Division I, which the Court in Knight clarified was an incorrect interpretation of its prior ruling. As such, lower courts in Division II may in fact choose to follow the ruling in Knight which was issued today and permit 3-day and 10-day notices, once again.

Finally, as of the writing of this blog post, the Housing Justice Project (“HJP”) has petitioned the Washington State Supreme Court for review of Division I’s decision in KCHA v. Knight. Updates regarding the status of the petition for review will be provided as they become available.

Please feel free to contact Briana Irani or any Montgomery Purdue attorneys specializing in landlord-tenant law if you are a Washington landlord looking for legal help.

Leave a Comment