Washington Landlord Tenant Laws
January 17, 2023
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|Required Disclosures |
Security deposit receipt
Copy of rental agreement
Fire safety and protection
Rent and Fees
Application Fees: N/A
Rent Control: Banned
Late Fee Limit: $20 or 20% of monthly rent
Grace Period Minimum: 5 days
Amount Limit: N/A
Return Within: 21 days
|Fair Housing Protections |
Source of Income
Notice: 2 days
Permitted Times of Entry: Reasonable
Rent Demand Notice: 14-day pay-or-quit notice
Notice for Lease Violation: 10-day cure-or-quit notice
Unconditional Notice to Quit: 3-day quit notice
Washington Landlord-Tenant Law
Landlords in all 50 states must include information about lead-based paint hazards in the rental agreements for most properties built before 1978. Sellers and landlords must distribute an EPA-approved information pamphlet called “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home” and disclose any known lead hazards in the property. These obligations were established by Section 1018 of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992.
Landlords must disclose to all tenants their names and addresses. If the landlord does not reside in the same state as the dwelling unit(s), the landlord should also designate the local person authorized to act on their behalf and who can receive notices.
Copy of Rental Agreement
Landlords must provide a copy of the written rental agreement to each tenant who signs it.
Security Deposit Receipt
Landlords must provide tenants with a written receipt for all security deposits. The receipt should include the name, address, and location of the depository where the funds are held.
Landlords in Washington may not collect a security deposit unless they provide a written checklist describing the “condition and cleanliness of existing damages to the premises and furnishings.” This checklist should include, but is not limited to, furniture, appliances, walls, carpets, flooring, and countertops. The checklist should be signed and dated by both the landlord and the tenant.
Fire Safety and Protection
Landlords in Washington must provide a written notice disclosing fire safety and protection information to all tenants. The notice should include the confirmation that the dwelling unit is equipped with a working smoke detector and inform tenants that it is their responsibility to maintain it in operating condition. For multi-family homes, the notice must also indicate whether the smoke detector is hard-wired or battery-powered and whether the building has a fire sprinkler system, fire alarm system, a smoking policy (and what it is), and an emergency notification/relocation/evacuation plan. The notice should be signed by both the landlord and the tenant when the lease is signed, and each party should keep copies.
Landlords in Washington are required to provide a written disclosure about the health hazards associated with mold exposure. The notice should be provided or approved by the department of health, and it may be either provided to each tenant individually or posed in a public location.
According to Washington rent laws, landlords must disclose the purpose and amount of all nonrefundable move-in fees in the lease agreement. If the lease neglects to specify that a fee is nonrefundable, it must be treated as a refundable deposit.
Rent and Fees
- Rent Due Date: There is no statute in Washington specifying when rent should be due.
- Application Fees: Are rental application fees legal in Washington State? Rental application fees are not regulated in Washington.
- Rent Increases: Rent control is banned in Washington (RCW § 35.21.830). In Seattle, landlords are required to send 180 days’ notice before increasing rent and provide a notice of renters’ right to free legal counsel in an eviction lawsuit. If the increase is 10% or more, the notice must include a packet about the city’s economic displacement relocation assistance program (Seattle Municipal Code § 22.212.010).
- Late Fees: Landlords may charge a reasonable late fee of less than $20 or 20% of the rent, whichever is greater (RCW § 19.150.150).
- Grace Period: 5 days (RCW § 59.18.170).
- NSF/Bounced Check Fee Maximum: If the tenant’s rent check bounces, the landlord may charge a fee of 12% interest plus the cost of collection (up to $40 or the amount of the check, whichever is less) (RCW § 62A.3-515).
- Repair and Deduct: If the landlord fails to carry out their maintenance obligations, the tenant may send a good faith estimate of the repair cost to the landlord. If the landlord fails to remedy the condition within the applicable period, the tenant may arrange for the repair with a licensed contractor. Upon its completion, the tenant may then deduct the cost of repair from rent, up to two months’ rent per repair (RCW § 59.18.100).
- Deposit Limit: There is no limit on security deposits in Washington.
- Interest: Landlords are not required to pay tenants interest on security deposits. The landlord may keep any interest garnered from a deposit unless the rental agreement says otherwise (RCW § 59.18.270).
- Return Within: 21 days (RCW § 59.18.280).
- Deposit Location: Landlords must deposit all security funds in a trust account or other financial institution as defined by RCW 30.22.041, maintained only for the purpose of holding such deposits (RCW § 59.18.270).
- Withholding: Landlords may not withhold funds from the security deposit for normal wear and tear resulting from ordinary use of the property. Upon returning the remainder of the security deposit, the landlord must include a “full and specific” statement of the reasons for any withholdings (RCW 59.18.280).
Tenant Screening and Fair Housing Protections
- Federal law prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, gender, national origin, familial status, and disability (Title 24 USC § 3601-3607). Washington state law adds source of income, citizenship or immigration status, military/veteran status, sexual orientation, or the use of a service animal (RCW § 59.18.255, 49.60.030).
- Washington landlords are subject to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) (15 USC § 1681), which outlines the responsibilities of landlords to protect tenant credit information. According to the Act, landlords may not share tenant credit information with anyone without a legal reason to view it. They must also investigate disputed information, dispose of credit reports after use in tenant screening, and notify applicants when their credit score or history was the reason for their denial.
- Criminal background checks may be used during tenant screening in Washington.
- Washington landlords should follow HUD recommendations for using criminal background checks fairly. This includes avoiding blanket policies for denying applicants with criminal convictions, assessing applicants and their criminal histories on a case-by-case basis, and only denying an applicant when they demonstrate a risk to the safety of other residents or the property.
- Advanced Notice: 2 days’ notice. Landlords must also get consent to enter a tenant’s unit, and the tenant, in turn, must not unreasonably withhold consent to do so, so long as the landlord gave at least one day’s notice of intent to enter (RCW § 59.18.150(6)).
- Permitted Times: Landlords may only enter at reasonable times (RCW § 59.18.150(6)). Landlords may enter to inspect the premises; make repairs, alterations, or improvements; supply necessary or agreed-to services; or show the unit to prospective buyers or renters (RCW § 59.18.150(1)).
- Emergency Entry: In case of an emergency or abandonment, the landlord may enter a unit without consent or advanced notice (RCW § 59.18.150(5)).
Evictions are complex legal processes often poorly understood by both parties. Before pursuing eviction in Washington, consider hiring an experienced real estate attorney and be sure to review the Washington eviction process in more detail.
- Rent Demand Notice: 14 days to pay or quit (RCW § 59.12.030(3), 59.18.057).
- Notice for Lease Violation: 10 days to cure or quit (RCW § 59.12.030(4)). According to eviction laws in Washington state, this notice applies when a tenant fails to perform any condition under the lease agreement other than nonpayment of rent, including an agreement not to sublet the property.
- Unconditional Notice to Quit: 3 days to quit (RCW § 59.12.030(5)). This notice applies when a tenant conducts unlawful business on the premises.
Other Laws and Facts About Washington
- The median rent rate in Washington is $2,195 per month.
- The median rent rate in Seattle is $2,324 per month.
- Landlords who rent and manage mobile homes are subject to the Mobile Home Landlord-Tenant Act (RCW § 59.20).