RANDY REYNOLDS & ASSOCIATES, INC. dba REYNOLDS REAL ESTATE, Appellant,
KASEY HARMON aka KASEY HARMAN, Any Subtenants, and All Others Acting By Or Through Them, Respondents.
Reynolds & Associates Inc. (Reynolds) appeals from the
superior court commissioner's ex parte order staying a
writ of restitution in an unlawful detainer action that
Reynolds brought against a tenant and waiving bond pending a
hearing on the merits. Even though the issues raised are
moot, we reach the merits of the case because they raise
issues of important public policy that are likely to recur.
We hold that the superior court commissioner erred when she
heard the ex parte motion to stay execution of the writ of
restitution and waived the bond without notice to Reynolds in
violation of the notice and hearing requirements provided in
RCW 59.18.390(1). Consequently, we reverse.
2016, Reynolds served Kasey Harmon with a 20-day notice to
terminate her tenancy in compliance with the rental agreement
and RCW 59.12.030(2). When Harmon failed to timely vacate the
property, Reynolds filed and served an unlawful detainer
complaint seeking, among other things, restitution of the
premises. On September 16, after Harmon failed to appear
pursuant to proper notice, the superior court commissioner
entered an order of default and judgment granting a writ of
restitution in favor of Reynolds.
sheriff posted notice of the writ at Harmon's residence
on September 19. That same day, Harmon brought an ex parte
motion to stay execution of the writ. The superior court
commissioner stayed execution of the writ based on
Harmon's claim that she answered before the case was
filed and default was entered, and the court commissioner
ordered a show cause hearing. The order granting the stay was
on a preprinted form that stated, "Bond is waived until
the hearing on the merits of this motion, " and Harmon
did not post a bond. Clerk's Papers (CP) at 24.
support of its writ, Reynolds' pleadings asserted that
the ex parte hearing to stay the writ was improper and that
the stay was invalid because Harmon was required by RCW
59.18.390(1) to post a bond before retaining possession of
the premises and obtaining a stay of a writ of restitution.
At the show cause hearing, the superior court commissioner
held that Harmon had no legally sufficient challenge to the
writ of restitution, and it lifted the stay and granted a
supplemental judgment including attorney fees and costs to
Reynolds. The writ was then executed and Harmon was evicted.
appeals from the superior court commissioner's ex parte
order that granted a stay of the writ of restitution, waived
the bond, and ordered a show cause hearing.
acknowledges that the matters presented are moot but argues
that we should consider them because they involve
"issues of continuing and substantial public
interest." Br. of Appellant at 6. We agree.
Rules of Law
is moot if'"the court can no longer provide
effective relief" In re Del of M.W., 185 Wn.2d
633, 648, 374 P.3d 1123 (2016) (quoting State v.
Hunley, 175 Wn.2d 901, 907, 287 P.3d 584 (2012)).
Generally, we do not consider cases that are moot or present
abstract questions. State v. Beaver, 184 Wn.2d 321,
330, 358 P.3d 385 (2015).
when cases are moot, we have discretion to address questions
"of continuing and substantial public interest."
M. W., 185 Wn.2d at 648. When considering whether a
case involves issues of continuing and substantial public
interest, we consider (1) '"the public or private
nature of the question presented, '" (2)
'"the desirability of an authoritative determination
for the future guidance of public officers, '" and
(3) '"the likelihood of future recurrence of the
question.'" M. W., 185 Wn.2d at 648
(internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Hunley,
175 Wn.2d at 907).
involving statutory interpretation tend to be more public in
nature, more likely to arise again, and more helpful to
public officials. Hart v. Dep't of Soc. & Health
Serv., 111 Wn.2d 445, 449, 759 P.2d 1206 (1988). And
courts may consider '"the likelihood that the issue
will escape review because the facts of the controversy are
short-lived.'" In re Marriage of Horner,
151 Wn.2d 884, 892, 93 P.3d 124 (2004) (quoting Westerman
v. Cary, 125 Wn.2d 277, 286-87, 892P.2d 1067(1994)).
the superior court commissioner already lifted the writ's
stay and Harmon has been evicted, we can no longer provide
effective relief regarding the stay and the waiver of bond
pending the show cause hearing. See M. W., 185 Wn.2d
at 648. As such, the case is moot. M.W., 185 Wn.2d
the three factors for determining whether a matter is of
continuing and substantial public interest each weigh in
favor of a conclusion that we should consider the issues.
See M.W., 185 Wn.2d at 648. First, the questions
presented are public because they involve statutory
interpretation to determine the proper notice and hearing
procedures for certain proceedings under the Residential
Landlord-Tenant Act of 1973, ch. 59.18 RCW. See
Hart, 111 Wn.2d at 449.
it is desirable to have an authoritative determination of
proper procedures for obtaining a stay of a writ of
restitution and satisfying the bond requirement under RCW
59.18.390(1) to guide future public officers. See
M.W., 185 Wn.2d at 648. The superior court commissioner
here heard the motion to stay ex parte and waived the bond
requirement on a preprinted form that is evidently used
routinely in this county in orders to stay writs of
restitution. It is desirable to provide guidance to the
superior court so that its procedures may be adjusted to
conform to statutory requirements.
it is likely that similar questions will reoccur. See
M.W., 185 Wn.2d at 648. Superior courts routinely
adjudicate unlawful detainer actions by ...