Looking for clear and concise information on Washington landlord tenant law? Get all your answers from this plain English guide to the Washington Landlord Tenant Act.
WA Landlord Tenant Law
Before charging prospective tenants for background and credit checks, the landlord has to do inform them of the following in writing [WA 59.18.257.(2)]:
Whether the landlord uses a tenant screening service or conducts his or her own screening, the amount charged has to be reasonable (e.g. $25 to $30). [WA 59.18.257.(1)]
If the landlord violates Washington landlord tenant laws for screening tenants, the tenant can recover up to $100 plus court costs and attorney fees. [WA 59.18.257.(4)]
Before running background or credit checks on tenant applicants, landlords must first obtain the applicant's written permission. [Fair Credit Reporting Act Sec.604(a)(3)(F)]
For landlords to run background and credit checks, the tenant application form needs to ask for the applicant's:
The federal Fair Housing Act disallows landlords from rejecting prospective renters based on their race, color, religion, nationality, sex, *familial status or physical/mental disability. *Familial status means landlords cannot reject someone for having one or more children under 18. Familial status also includes pregnant women and people planning to have (or adapt) children under 18.
In addition, Washington landlord tenant law disallows landlords from rejecting someone as a renter because of sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran's status or marital status.
A tenancy agreement (also known as a lease agreement or rental agreement) can be written or verbal. If there is rental agreement is written, the landlord must give the tenant a signed copy and the tenant can also request for a free replacement copy during the tenancy. [WA 59.18.065]
The landlord and tenant can choose between a month to month tenancy or fixed term lease. For a month to month tenancy, the landlord or tenant can change its terms and conditions at the end of every month. For a fixed term lease, the landlord and tenant CANNOT change the lease terms and conditions during its duration... unless there is written consent from both parties.
Before entering into a rental agreement, Washington landlord tenant law requires the landlord to disclose the following to the tenant:
Washington landlord tenant law requires all tenancy agreements to contain the following details [WA 59.18.060.(14)]:
According to Washington landlord tenant law, your lease agreement CANNOT [WA 59.18.230.(2)]:
If the landlord deliberately included any prohibited terms and conditions, the tenant can sue the landlord for actual damages and attorney fees. [WA 59.18.230.(3)]
If the landlord wants to collect deposits from the tenant, the rental agreement must be in writing and the landlord has to give the tenant a written checklist describing the property's condition before the tenancy begins. [WA 59.18.260]
In addition, the written rental agreement must state the terms and conditions for deposit deductions and the checklist must be signed and dated by the landlord.
If the tenant requests for it, the landlord must provide a written receipt for any payments received from the tenant. [WA 59.18.063]
Washington landlord tenant law requires the landlord to hold the security deposit in a trust account of a financial institution or licensed escrow agent in Washington. The landlord can combine security deposits from multiple tenants into a single account, but cannot mix the deposits with other funds. [WA 59.18.270]
The landlord gets to keep any interest earned by the trust account (unless he or she agrees to forgo it in the lease agreement).
After receiving the deposit, the landlord has to give the tenant a receipt with the name and address of the deposit account.
Washington landlord tenant law requires the landlord to inform the tenant of the terms and conditions for security deposit deductions in writing.
Valid reasons for security deposit deductions (under Washington landlord tenant law) include:
The landlord is NOT allowed to take money from the security deposit due to damage from *normal wear and tear. [WA 59.18.260] *Normal wear and tear is the natural deterioration of the property (and its contents) from normal everyday use.
Once the lease terminates and the tenant returns the property, the landlord must send the tenant a list of security deposit deductions and refund any remaining deposit by first class mail within 14 days. This list has to individually account for all damages and rent owed in writing. [WA 59.18.280]
If the landlord fails to send this list and remaining deposit within 14 days, the landlord shall have to return the full deposit amount to the tenant.
If the landlord transfers his or her ownership of the property to another person, the landlord shall transfer the security deposit to the new owner. The new owner must inform the tenant of this transfer plus the name and address of the new deposit account. [WA 59.18.270]
Seattle, Washington WA
If the tenant requests for it, the landlord must provide a written receipt for any payments received from the tenant. [WA 59.18.063]
There are no Washington landlord tenant statutes on imposing charges for late rent payments.
If the landlord wants to impose late rent charges, it has to be specified in the tenancy agreement. While there are no state laws on late fees, landlords cannot overcharge or impose unfair terms. Otherwise the tenant can refuse to pay and challenge the late fees in court.
Most states consider reasonable late fees to be around 3 to 5% of the rent amount. In addition, landlords should wait until rent payment is at least three days late before charging late fees.
According to the Washington Landlord Tenant Act, the landlord can choose to raise the rent by any amount.
For a month to month tenancy, the landlord has to notify the tenant of a rent increase at least 30 days in advance. [WA 59.18.140] The tenant can then choose to pay the higher rent or move out. If the tenant chooses to leave, he or she should give the landlord a written 30 day notice to quit.
For a fixed term tenancy, the landlord isn't allowed to raise the rent until the tenancy expires.
The Washington Landlord Tenant Act requires the landlord to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition [WA 59.18.060]:
Washington landlord tenant law also requires the tenant to keep the property in a clean and safe condition [WA 59.18.130]:
If the landlord fails in his or her duties (see Landlord Duties and Responsibilities above), the tenant can send the landlord a written notice stating the problems and how much time landlord has to correct them. [WA 59.18.070]
The amount of time for the landlord to make repairs depends on the problem:
If the landlord fails to correct the problems within the above deadlines and repairs won't cost more than one month's rent, the tenant can submit a cost estimate of the repairs to the landlord (or landlord's agent) in person or by certified mail. The tenant can then proceed to hire a qualified person to make repairs and deduct the costs from rent. The tenant can deduct a maximum of one month's rent for repairs for any 12 month period. [WA 59.18.100]
If the landlord terminates any utility services such as water, heat, electricity or gas on purpose (unless it is required for repairs), the tenant can sue the landlord for actual damages and up to $100 per day without utilities plus court costs and attorney fees. [WA 59.18.300]
If the tenant fails in his or her duties (see Tenant Duties and Responsibilities above), the landlord can send the tenant a written notice stating the problems and giving the tenant 30 days to correct it. [WA 59.18.180]
If the tenant fails to fix the problem within 30 days (or soon as possible for emergencies), the landlord can enter the property for repairs and then submit the repair bills to the tenant. The tenant has to pay the bills when the next rent is due or immediately if the rental agreement has terminated.
According to Washington landlord tenant law, the landlord is only allowed to enter the property for the following reasons [WA 59.18.150.(1)]:
In the above situations, the landlord must inform the tenant at least two days in advance before entering the property. The landlord can only enter the property with the tenant's consent and during reasonable hours. [WA 59.18.150.(5)]
The tenant cannot deny access if the landlord has a valid reason to enter the property. If the tenant violates this law, the landlord can send the tenant a written notice stating the violation date and time. If the tenant violates this law for the second time, the landlord can sue the tenant for up to $100 per violation plus court costs and attorney fees. [WA 59.18.150.(7)]
According to Washington landlord tenant law, the landlord may enter the property without permission in the following situations [WA 59.18.150.(4),(6)]:
The landlord must have a valid reason and obtain the tenant's permission (whenever required by Washington landlord tenant law) to enter the property.
If the landlord fails to do so or harasses the tenant, the tenant can send the landlord a written notice stating the violation date and time. If the tenant violates this law for the second time, the landlord can sue the tenant for up to $100 per violation plus court costs and attorney fees. [WA 59.18.150.(7)]
There are no specific Washington landlord tenant laws on subletting.
We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:
Tacoma, Washington WA
Before terminating a tenancy, Washington landlord tenant law requires you to give the other party a written notice to quit in advance [WA 59.18.200.(1)(a)]:
Month to month tenancy
If you are the tenant, the following are the minimum number of days for giving your landlord a notice to quit:
Tenant is deployed in the armed forces
Tenant or household member is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking
Washington landlord tenant law allows a service member (or member's spouse/dependent) to terminate the tenancy agreement if he or she receives reassignment or deployment orders. [WA 59.18.200.(1)(b)]
The tenant can terminate the rental agreement by giving the landlord a written 20 day notice to quit AND a copy of the reassignment or deployment orders (within seven days of receiving the orders). [WA 59.18.220.(2)]
The tenant can terminate the rental agreement immediately by informing the landlord in writing that the tenant or household member is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking AND giving the landlord a copy of the protection order or qualified third party report. [WA 59.18.575.(1)]
Once the tenant terminates the rental agreement, he or she shall have to continue paying rent until the end of the month. The landlord has to return all security deposits (after deductions) to the tenant. [WA 59.18.575.(2)]
According to Washington landlord tenant law, the following are valid reasons for evicting tenants and the minimum number of days for giving them a notice to quit [WA 59.12.030]:
Tenant did not pay rent
Tenant violated tenancy agreement
Tenant was involved in illegal activities on property
Tenant deliberately caused property damage
If the tenant did not pay rent on time, the landlord can send the tenant a 10 day written notice to terminate the tenancy. This
notice must state the amount of rent owed and that the rental agreement
shall be terminated if rent isn't paid within 10 days.
If the rent is paid within 10 days, then tenancy shall continue. [WA 59.04.040]
If the tenant violates the tenancy agreement, the landlord can send the tenant a written 10 day notice to terminate the tenancy. [WA 59.12.030.(4)]
This written notice has to state what is the tenant's violation or failure in duty. If the tenant corrects the problem within 10 days, then the tenancy shall continue. [WA 59.12.030.(4)]
Also known as "Notice of Termination of Tenancy" or "Notice to Quit", the landlord can serve an eviction notice to the tenant with any following method [WA 59.12.040]:
According to the Washington Landlord Tenant Act, the tenant has abandoned the property when BOTH conditions are met [WA 59.18.310]:
Once the property is abandoned, the landlord may enter it immediately and re-rent it.
For a month to month tenancy, the tenant shall have to pay rent until the next rent payment date. [WA 59.18.310.(1)]
For tenancies with longer rental periods, the abandoning tenant will be responsible for paying rent until the tenancy ends. If a new tenant is found before the tenancy ends, then the abandoning tenant can stop paying rent once the new tenant moves in. In this case, the tenant still has to pay the landlord for the costs of re-renting the property plus court costs and attorney fees. [WA 59.18.310.(2)]
If the tenant abandoned the property and left his or her personal belongings behind, the landlord must send a written notice with the following details to the tenant [WA 59.18.310.(2)]:
The landlord has to deliver this notice to the tenant in person or by first class mail (postage prepaid) to the tenant's last known address.
To claim his or her belongings, the tenant has to inform the landlord and pay for the costs of moving and storing the belongings.
If the tenant doesn't recover the belongings within 45 days, the landlord can choose to sell or dispose the belongings. The landlord sell the belongings to pay for the following:
Any leftover revenue shall be paid to the tenant. If the tenant doesn't claim it within one year, then the landlord shall get to keep it.
Washington Landlord Tenant Law: Washington Residential Landlord Tenant Act
Washington Landlord Tenant Handbook: Washington Landlord Tenant Rights