Squatters on your Property

What is a Trespass Letter?

Under some circumstances, you may be able to use a written request in the form of a Trespass Letter to ask law enforcement to remove the trespassers from your property without going through a protracted legal process.

The process is allowed by RCW 9A.52.105 (passed as ESB 5388 in 2017).  The request form requirements are in RCW 9A.52.115.

Who can Use It?

To use this process, the following circumstances have to be met:

  • You need to be the owner of the premises
  • The trespasser must have entered and remained illegally
  • The trespasser must not have been a tenant in the past 12 months
  • The trespasser must have refused your request to leave

What should I be aware of?

Any false declarations made by an owner or their agent under this law may bring a cause of action against them for false swearing or for making a false or misleading statement to a public servant, both of which are gross misdemeanors, and the declarant may be held liable for actual damages, costs, and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

Law enforcement must provide the individual(s) with a reasonable opportunity to secure and present any credible evidence, which the officer must consider, showing that the person or persons are tenants, legal occupants, or the guests or invitees of tenants or legal occupants.

If it is determined by law enforcement that the individual(s) are on the property illegally, they may then proceed with removing them from the premises, with or without an arrest being made, and order them to remain off the premises or be subject to arrest for criminal trespass.

How do I use it?

You make a written to law enforcement.  Some jurisdictions have created their own form/letter – for instance, the King County Sheriff’s Office has a letter than can be found HERE

If your jurisdiction does not have their own request form, you can download a general request form HERE.