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 tenants, but they may also help you avoid potential lawsuits.
In the state of Washington, the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act contains all these laws.
Whether you are a landlord looking to acquaint yourself with these laws or a tenant seeking to understand your basic rights and responsibilities, you've landed on the right place.
The following is an overview of Washington's state landlord-tenant law.
Required Landlord Disclosures
Under the state's law, there are certain disclosures that every landlord must discuss with their tenants prior to them signing the lease.
Here are a few:
- Mold: Landlords are required to supply their tenants with important information regarding health hazards linked to mold exposure and what they can do to control it.
- Lead Paint: For buildings built prior to 1978, landlords are required to place a "Lead Warning Statement" in their lease agreement.
- Agents: If the landlord is not managing the property themselves, then the person receiving rental payments is automatically assumed to be the agent.
- Ownership: Washington tenants have a right to know who their landlord is. The landlord can provide this information by posting it in a conspicuous place or by mentioning it in the lease agreement.
Washington State Renters Rights & Responsibilities
In Washington, tenants have a right to:
- Live in a property that meets the state's basic habitability codes.
- Be notified when the landlord is looking to enter their premises for tasks, such as repairs, inspections or showings of the property.
- Be notified when the landlord is looking to make any changes to the terms of the lease or rental agreement.
- Be taken through the right eviction procedure when the landlord is seeking to have them evicted.
- Have repairs done within a reasonable timeframe.
As for responsibilities, tenants in Washington are responsible for:
- Providing the landlord with notice prior to moving out.
- Abiding by all terms of the lease.
- Notifying the landlord whenever maintenance issues arise.
- Ensuring the property is always clean and sanitary.
- Notifying the landlord when looking to go away for an extended period of time.
- Ensuring rent is paid on time every month without fail.
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 landlords have a right to:
- Be notified when the tenant is looking to leave for an extended period of time.
- Enter the premises to make requested or needed repairs.
- Receive notice when a tenant is looking to move out.
- Be notified when a tenant is looking to make any changes to the lease or rental agreement.
As for responsibilities, Washington landlords are responsible for:
- Abiding by all terms of the lease or rental agreement.
- Making requested or needed repairs as soon as possible.
- Complying with all codes that apply to the rental property.
- Notifying the tenant when looking to enter their home, unless there's an emergency.
- Maintaining the property's peace and quiet.
Overview of Washington State Tenancy Laws
Washington Fair Housing Laws
The Washington Fair Housing Law protects tenants against discrimination based on the state's protected classes. The classes include race, familial status, national origin, color, religion/creed, sex/gender identity, marital status, and veteran/military status.
It is illegal for a landlord to:
- Refuse to rent their property or lie about its availability based on a protected class.
- Market the property in a way that indicates favoritism towards a certain class.
- Fail to make reasonable changes to accommodate people with disability.
- Include a lease 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. A 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 an overview of the state's security deposit laws, please click here.
Washington Small Claims Court
Small claims courts allow for quick, inexpensive, informal and uncomplicated legal processes. For example, unlike other courts, a dispute in a small claims court usually takes about half an hour to be resolved.
In Washington, the maximum a person can sue for is capped at $5,000.
Washington tenants have a right to privacy. This means that a landlord or their agent can't barge in on them as they like. To access the property, a landlord will need to provide the tenant with a 48 hours' notice.
Here are some of the common reasons a landlord can enter the premise:
- They have sufficient reason to believe that the renter 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.
- The issue must fall under the landlord's list of responsibilities.
We hope this post served helpful for you, whether you're a property owner or a tenant. For more information, contact Windermere Property Management.
Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws frequently change, and 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 any other aspect of your property management needs.