As a property owner in Washington state, understanding the statewide tenancy laws is critical. Not only will they help you avoid misunderstandings and conflicts with your Washington tenant, but they may also help you avoid potential lawsuits.
In Washington state, the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act contains all the landlord-tenant laws.
From security deposits, the evictin process to fees, and notice requirements, there is much to familiarize yourself with. Thankfully, here you will learn everything you need to know for your rental unit as a landlord in Washington.
Washington tenants and landlords alike should know about Washington landlord tenant laws. So, keep on reading!
Required Landlord Disclosures
Under the state's law, there are certain disclosures that Washington State landlords must discuss with their tenants prior to them signing the lease or written rental agreement for the rental period.
Here are a pieces of information that a landlord must give to their prospective tenant by law or rental agreement:
- Mold: Landlords are required to supply their tenants with important information regarding health and safety hazards linked to mold exposure and what they can do to control it if it is ever present on the rental property.
- Lead Paint: For buildings built prior to 1978, landlords are required to place a "Lead Warning Statement" in their lease agreement.
- Agents: If the landlords are not managing the rental unit themselves, then the person receiving the payment of rent is automatically assumed to be the agent.
- Ownership: Washington tenants have a right to know who their landlords are. The Washington landlords can give this information to the tenant by posting it in a conspicuous place or by mentioning it in the lease.
Washington State Renters Rights & Responsibilities
In Washington, tenants have a right to:
- Live in a unit that meets the state's basic habitability codes.
- Be given proper notice when the landlord is looking to enter their premises for tasks, such as repairs, inspections or showings of the home.
- Be notified when the landlord is looking to make any changes to the terms of the written rental agreements.
- Be taken through the right eviction process when the landlord is seeking to have them evicted.
- Have repairs done within a reasonable timeframe.
As for duties, Washington state tenants are responsible for:
- Providing the landlord with a written notice prior to moving out.
- Abiding by all terms of the tenancy and to be held accountable if the tenant violates a part of the agreement.
- Notifying the landlord whenever maintenance issues arise.
- Ensuring the unit is always clean and sanitary.
- Notifying the landlord when looking to go away for an extended period of time.
- Ensuring they pay rent or late fees on time every month without fail when monthly rent payments or recurring and periodic charges are due.
If any of their rights are infringed upon, a tenant may have legal justification to break their lease agreement early.
Landlord Rights & Responsibilities
As for landlords, Washington landlord responsibilities include:
- Be notified when a tenant is looking to leave for an extended period of time or find a new prospective landlord.
- Being fair and within the Fair Housing Laws when using a tenant screening report for prospective tenants.
- Enter the rental property to conduct requested or needed maintenance projects.
- To only pay relocation assistance if damage was caused by the landlord.
- Receive a tenant written notice when a tenant is looking to move out of the rental property.
- Receive notice when a tenant is looking to make any changes to the lease or rental agreement or if a lease termination occurs.
As for duties, Washington landlords must:
- Abide by all terms of the lease agreement and Washington state law.
- Collect rental payments when tenants pay rent.
- Repair any rental property damages as soon as possible.
- Comply with all codes that apply to the rental including the eviction process. This includes self-help methods like removing a tenant's personal belongings.
- Notify the tenant when looking to enter their home, unless there's an emergency.
- Maintain the landlord duties of keeping unit's peace and quiet.
- Avoid landlord harassment or housing discrimination against prospective tenants as per local laws and the Fair Housing Act.
Overview of Washington State Tenancy Laws
Washington Fair Housing Laws
The Washington Fair Housing Law avoids housing discrimination by protecting tenants based on the state's protected classes. The classes include race, familial status, national origin, color, religion/creed, sexual orientation, marital status, and veteran/military status.
It is illegal for a landlord to:
- Refuse to rent their home to a tenant or lie about its availability based on a protected class as per the rental laws.
- Market the unit to potential tenants in a way that indicates favoritism towards a certain class.
- Fail to make reasonable changes to accommodate people with disability who look to live in your rental properties.
- Include a lease agreement term that violates a protected class. For instance, prohibiting service animals because of a "no pets" policy.
Washington State Security Deposit Limit and Return
Most, if not all, landlords in Washington require a security deposit from their tenant. A tenant's security deposit is money that the property owner can collect, but it is separate from the rent. Its chief purpose is to help landlords cushion themselves against financial ruin such as excessive property damage. For instance, if a tenant causes damage, a landlord may keep all, or a part, of their security deposit to pay for the repairs.
For more information and an overview of the state law regarding security deposits, please click here.
Washington Small Claims Court
These courts allow for quick, inexpensive, informal and uncomplicated legal processes. For example, unlike other courts or forms of legal assistance, a dispute in this type of court usually takes about half an hour to be resolved.
In Washington, the maximum a person can sue for is capped at $5,000.
According to landlord tenant law in Washington, tenants have a right to privacy. This means that a landlord or their agent cannot barge in on them as they like. To access the unit, a landlord must give the tenant a 48 hours' written notice.
Here are some of the common reasons a landlord may enter the premise:
- They have sufficient reason to believe that the tenant has abandoned the premises
- The court directs it
- The tenant seriously violates the terms of the lease
- To check for lease violations
- To make needed or required repairs
- When conducting inspections
- To provide essential services
It also goes without saying that the time of entry must also be reasonable. For instance, between 8AM and 5PM on weekdays and between 9AM and 3PM on weekends are reasonable hours.
Renters Rights to Withhold Rent
Tenants in Washington have a right to withhold rent if the landlord fails to take care of essential repairs. The problem must meet two fundamental criteria:
- It must violate the implied warranty of habitability as per the Washington law.
- The issue must fall under the landlord's list of duties.
In this case, landlords must proceed with the eviction of their tenant for unpaid rent.
We hope this post served on Washington landlord tenant laws was helpful for you. This information is important for landlords and tenants! For more information about the Residential Landlord-Tenant act, contact Windermere Property Management.
Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice. Please contact a licensed attorney in your state for legal advice. A Washington laws can frequently change, and the information in this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regards to this content or for any other information regarding law in Washington.