Expedited Holdover Eviction Available Even When Lease Terminates Early
What Happened: Two years into its five-year term, a tenant leasing space for use as an airport hangar exercised its right to terminate early, without penalty, upon 180 days’ notice. The plan was for the tenant to remain in the space until the sides reached agreement on a new lease for a larger hangar. But after months of unsuccessful negotiation, the landlord decided enough was enough. So, it sought to oust the tenant under a state law allowing commercial landlords to bring a special action called an “unlawful detainer” to evict on an expedited basis when a tenant holds over after the lease expires. The court tossed the case, and the landlord appealed.
Ruling: The Supreme Court of Washington reversed the ruling and allowed the landlord to go forward with the unlawful detainer action.
Reasoning: The Court rejected the tenant’s argument that unlawful detainer is available only when a tenant holds over after the stated term of the lease expires. The unlawful detainer statute just says that a landlord can bring an unlawful detainer action when the lease ends. The provision applies regardless of whether the lease ends because the fixed term expires or because an early termination provision allows for termination before that date. And the lease in this case ended when the tenant exercised its right to terminate early, the Court concluded.
- Spokane Airport Bd. v. Experimental Aircraft Ass’n, Chapter 79, 2021 Wash. LEXIS 518, 2021 WL 4467797