As a landlord, you may want to increase rent for many reasons. Some of these reasons may include to make property improvements, to keep up with the market, and to keep up with rising taxes.
That said, under the landlord-tenant law, there are laws that every Washington landlord must abide by when looking to raise the rent. You can't simply wake up one morning and decide to increase the rent by whatever amount you want.
In this post, we'll provide answers to some commonly asked questions regarding rent increase laws in Washington!
Is there a limit to how much landlords can increase rent by?
Washington is yet to legislate an act limiting how much rent a landlord can charge a tenant. This means that a landlord can charge whatever amount they see fit.
That said, charging a 'reasonable' rent amount is key. Increasing rent too much and overcharging your tenants will make your property less desirable to prospective tenants. This will mean longer vacancies for you.
When can a landlord in Washington increase rent?
As a landlord in Washington, you're bound by the terms of the written lease. Usually, landlords increase rent at every lease renewal. However, if both parties agree, the rent increase can occur at any point during the tenancy.
The only thing you'll need to provide the tenant with is an advance written notice.
When is it illegal for a landlord to increase rent in the state of Washington?
It's illegal for a WA landlord to increase rent for discriminatory or retaliatory circumstances.
As per the Fair Housing Act, it's illegal for a landlord to increase rent based on race, color, disability, familial status, national origin, or religion.
It's also illegal for landlords in Washington to increase rent in order to retaliate against their tenant for certain actions. When a tenant signs an angreement, they are given certain rights. For example, they have the right to live in a unit that meets the state's safety, health and building codes.
If you don't provide such a property, the tenant has the right to report you to a relevant government agency. It'd then be illegal for you to increase their rent because they're excising one of their rights.
How much notice do landlords need to give their tenants to raise rent?
Under Washington law, before increasing rent, you must first give tenants a written notice. For month-to-month tenants, you must provide them with a 30-Day Notice before raising their rent.
However, different cities may have different rules. In Seattle, for example, you are required to provide a minimum of a 60-Days Written Notice before increasing rent for a month-to-month tenant. The only exception to this is if the tenancy has a subsidy, in which case you must provide them a 30-Days Written Notice.
Needless to say, all notices regarding rent increases must be written.
How often can a Washington State landlord increase rent?
Currently, Washington State doesn't have a legislation that caps how many times a landlord can increase rent. You can do so as many times as you'd like, as long as it's within the provisions of the agreement.
Are there cities in Washington with Rent Control Laws in place?
No, there aren't any cities in Washington with rent control laws. You can charge any amount of rent you want anywhere in the state of Washington. In fact, there is a legislation in place preventing attempts by local municipalities to control rent.
Does Washington have laws regarding late fees?
The state of Washington doesn't have laws in place in regard to late fees. However, if charging late fees, you must make sure you disclose that information in your lease or rental agreement.
Are there laws regarding bounced check fees?
Yes. You may charge your tenant up to 12% interest, as well as collect up to $40 when a check bounces for inadequate funds and remains overdue for 15 days.
Bottom Line: Rent Increase Laws in Washington State
As a landlord in Washington, you have the right to increase rent. You can do so as many times as you'd like, so long as it abides by the terms of the lease.
Typically, you can increase the rent at the end of every lease period. However, if the lease states otherwise, you must follow the provisions of the lease agreement! Before raising the rent, don't forget to provide a notice. In most Washington cities, you'll have to provide a 30-Day Notice for a month-to-month tenant!
Are you wondering about other laws in Washington? If so, read our guide about Washington landlord-tenant laws!
For more information, contact Windermere Property Management today.
Disclaimer: This blog about rent increase laws is in no way a substitute for professional legal advice. Also, laws about rent increases keep changing and it may not be up to date at the time of your reading. If you still have questions or want further help, please get in touch with us. Windermere Property Management is an experienced and professional property management company that can help you.