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Washington Landlord-Tenant Laws

Washington Landlord Tenant LawsThis article is intended to be an online resource for Washington landlords.  We summarize key Washington Landlord-Tenant laws that are most applicable to residential rental units.

This article is not qualified legal advice.  Individuals seeking guidance need to work with a legal advisor who is qualified in the jurisdiction.  Washington Landlord Tenant Laws and statutes may vary from county to county or city to city, this article provides state level laws and statutes. 

Also, laws and statutes are subject to change and may cause sections of this article to be outdated.  We provide links to assist landlords and tenants to the state statute page for further research.

Click here if you are seeking renters insurance in Washington.

 

Quick Facts for Real Estate Investors Considering Washington

Washington landlord-tenant laws are considered Tenant-friendly.

There are 7.6 million residents in Washington.  Major metropolitan markets in Washington are:

  1. Seattle: Estimated population of 3,979,845, which 40% of residents are renter occupied.  Average rent is $1,443.
  2. Spokane: Estimated population of 568,521, which 36% of residents are renter occupied.  Average rent is $852.
  3. Kenneck: Estimated population of 299,612, which 33% of residents are renter occupied.  Average rent is $945.
  4. Olympia: Estimated population of 290,536, which 34% of residents are renter occupied.  Average rent is $1,203.

 

Jump to Different Washington Landlord Tenant Laws

 

 

 

 

SECURITY DEPOSIT LAWS IN WASHINGTON

 

Does Washington require security deposits? 

Washington does not require security deposits.

 

Is a security deposit receipt required in Washington? 

Washington does require landlords to provide a receipt of security deposit.  Landlord must provide the name and address of the financial institution where the deposit is being held. (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.270)

 

How much security deposit can a landlord charge in Washington? 

In Washington, there is no statute stating limits on security deposits.  Often landlords seek one to one-and-a-half’s months rent in other states.

 

Storage Requirements for Security Deposits in Washington: 

Landlords are required to keep deposits a separate trust account, held in the state of Washington, and provide the name and address of the financial institution holding the security deposit. (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.270)

 

 

Can security deposits be commingled with other assets in Washington? 

Washington landlords can commingle their security deposits with other assets. (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.270)

 

Do landlords have to pay interest on security deposits in Washington? 

Landlords are not required to pay interest on security deposits. (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.270)

 

When must a landlord return the deposit by in Washington? 

In Washington, landlords have 21 days to return the security deposit.  According to (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.280)

 

When can a landlord in Washington withhold security deposit?

At the end of a lease, the landlord is required to return the tenant’s security deposit.  However, landlords may withhold all or portions of a tenant’s security deposit if:

  • Damage in excess of normal wear and tear
  • Unpaid rent
  • Unpaid utility bills

Landlords must include a list with the remaining security deposit. (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.280)

 

 

Nonrefundable fees: 

Landlords are allowed to charge non-refundable fees if clearly defined as ‘non-refundable fees’ in the lease agreement.  Washington requires the fee to be written.  According to (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.285)

 

Pet Deposits and Additional Fees:

Washington has no pet deposit.statutes.  Local cities, such as Seattle, may have their own policies.  It is important to check with the property’s local city codes.

 

Require written description / itemized list of damages and charges?

Landlords are required to provide written and itemized list of damages. (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.280)

 

What happens to Washington landlords that fail to comply returning the security deposit?

When landlords in Washington fail to comply with state law (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.260), they can be penalized the amount withheld plus reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs.  According to the penalty statue listed at (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.260).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RENTAL AGREEMENT LAWS IN WASHINGTON

 

Rental agreements required in Washington:

Tenancies 12 months or longer in Washington require a rental agreement.  If tenancy is less, it is still encouraged to create a written rental agreement.  Leases that require a security deposit or non-refundable fees must have a written agreement regardless of duration.

If you need a lease, Burbz offers an online Washington rental lease agreement.

 

What are the required lease provisions in Washington?

Washington requires certain provisions to be included in the lease agreement.  Besides both the landlord and tenant names, the landlord should also list:

  • Owner / Manager’s Name and Address
  • Mold Information
  • Lead Base Paint Disclosure
  • Fire Safety Notice and Inspection

 

It is also strongly recommended to include these provisions:

  • Term of the Lease
  • Amount of Rent
  • Rent due date
  • Security Deposit Amount and its coverage
  • Responsible parties for utilities
  • Responsible party for maintenance
  • Define reasonable amount for late fees and assessment date
  • Policy on subleasing
  • Liable party for utility expenses
  • Penalties for late rent payments
  • Landlord’s responsibilities
  • Tenant’s responsibilities
  • Pet policies
  • Security Deposit
  • Cleaning Fees
  • Other fees

 

 

 

What are the rental agreement notice requirements in Washington: 

Fixed-End or Year-to-Year: No notice is required since the lease agreement expires upon the completion date.  Unless a clause is added into the lease agreement. (Washington RCW §§ 59.04.030)

Month-to-Month: At least 20 days.  Active duty military can provide less than 20 days if deployed. (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.200(1a-b))

Week-to-Week: No Statute.

 

What happens when the tenant remains without consent after the rental agreement expires or terminates?

Landlords are allowed to force an immediate termination for tenants not on leases or squatters.

 

 

Does the lease automatically renew in Washington? 

Leases terminate upon expiration, unless stated in the lease.

 

Rent Increase Notice:

30 days. (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.140)

 

Rent Grace Period for Residential:

No Statute.

 

Prepaid Rent:

No statute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LATE FEES AND LIMITS IN WASHINGTON

Late Fees for Residential:

No statute. 

 

Late Fees for Manufactured Homes:

No statute.

 

Rent Grace Period for Manufactured Homes:

No statute.

 

 

Limits to late fees in Washington:

No statute 

 

 

 

WASHINGTON LEASE TERMINATIONS / NOTICES TO QUIT

 

In Washington, lease agreements between landlords and tenants can be terminated.  Read our blog for landlords about handling early lease terminations.  Here are the cause and effects:

 

What is the Pay or Quit for Nonpayment requirement in Washington?

Washington requires zero days to remedy or quit.  Landlords can begin the process the following day once rent is deemed late. 

 

How many days must a landlord allow before terminating for a Lease Violation?

If the tenant breaches the Lease Agreement besides unpaid rent, Washington requires landlords to provide 3 days to remedy or quit. (Washington RCW §§ 59.12.030(3))

 

 

Washington allows immediate lease termination if the tenant is responsible for:

Landlords may immediately terminate and request removal if the tenant is occupying on an unapproved tenancy or squatting.  More information at  (Washington RCW §§ 59.04.050)

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How many days when terminating for illegal drug-related activities?

Tenants using, possessing or selling illegal drugs on premises can have their lease terminated with 3 days notice. (Washington RCW §§ 59.12.030(5))

 

 

 

 

WASHINGTON LAWS ON REPAIRS

 

Washington tenants are legally allowed to make repairs and deduct the cost from rent.  However, the following protocol must be followed before doing so:

How many days must the tenant give for non-emergency repairs? 

Tenants must provide 24 hours for emergency or hazardous, 72 hours for appliance or 10 days for other requests.  If the landlord fails to address the problem, the tenant may fix the problem if it is less than 2 month’s rent. (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.100)

 

Can tenant without rent for landlords’ failure to provide essential services (i.e. water, heat, etc.)?

Yes, although the tenant will need to pay rent into the court system or pay for repairs themselves.  (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.115)

 

 

If the landlord fails to take necessary action, then the tenants can legally:

Washington allows tenants to:

  • Use rent to hire a licensed professional; must provide estimate before repair work is performed and cost cannot exceed 2 month’s rent
  • Use rent  to self-perform repairs that do not require a professional license; cannot exceed one month’s rent
  • File claim in court for a reduction in rent.  Judge will determine a new rent amount based on the diminished value of the rental unit.
  • Pay rent to the local court until landlord has repaired the defects
  • Terminate the lease with a refund of security deposit and pro-rate refund of any prepaid rent/fees

 

 

 

WASHINGTON LANDLORD RESPONSIBILITIES

What must the landlord provide in good and working order?

Washington defines certain responsibilities for landlords, including:

  • Must comply with all applicable building codes affecting health and safety
  • Must keep all common areas in a clean and safe condition
  • Must supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water, at all times.
  • Must maintain facilities and appliances in good and working order, including:
  • Safe working electricity, heating, ventilating, plumbing & sanitary, elevators and appliances
  • Dwelling has access to running water and reasonable amounts of heat and hot water.  Landlords can still have tenants pay for utilities.
  • Provide locks and keys to ensure safety of tenant and personal property
  • Provide reasonable program to prevent and control infestations by rodents, insects and pests

 

Do landlords have to provide appliances and services?

No Statute.

 

 

 

 

WASHINGTON TENANT LAWS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

 

Tenant must maintain a fit and habitable premise and is prohibited from intentionally or negligently damaging or removing any part of the premise.  Cannot partake in drug-related activities, unlawful businesses or disturb the peaceful enjoyment of the neighbors.  

 

 

 

 

 

WASHINGTON EVICTION LAWS

 

Washington requires a landlord to file a eviction lawsuit to evict a tenant. (Washington RCW §§ 59.12.030(3))

 

 

Landlords may evict tenants for the following:

  • Not paying rent
  • Occupying past lease expiration without new lease
  • Violation of lease / Breach of contract
  • Intentionally damaging property
  • Operating any unlawful business
  • Allowing or engaging in gang-related activity on the premises

 

 

Can landlords do a ‘self help’ eviction?

In Washington, it is illegal for landlords to attempt to evict a tenant not through a court order.

Are landlords allowed to lock out tenants by changing locks?

Landlords cannot change locks. (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.290)

Are landlords allowed to turn off utilities?

Landlords cannot turn off utilities. (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.290)

Tenants may not be evicted for non-payment of rent if:

Tenants cannot be evicted for non-payment if the landlord has failed to repair items and the tenant got a judgement allowing them to pay into the court.

 

 

 

 

 

WASHINGTON LAWS ON RETALIATION

 

Washington laws state a landlord cannot terminate a lease, refuse a lease renewal or raise rents when:

  • Tenant submitted a complaint to government agency for building or health code violation
  • Tenant has sent written complaints to the landlords about repairs
  • Tenant joined fellow tenants to negotiate or deal collectively on terms and conditions of the lease agreement with the landlord

 

If a landlord responds negatively within 90 days, it is assumed to be retaliation. (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.250)

 

 

 

 

LAWS ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, SEXUAL MISCONDUCT, AND SEXUAL ASSAULT

 

A landlord cannot discriminate against prospective tenants or tenants because they have been a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, rape or stalking.

Verify Claim:

A landlord is allowed to verify claim of Domestic Violence.  (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.575(1b))

 

 

Can a tenant terminate the least if they are a victim of domestic violence: 

Washington state law says a tenant with proof of Domestic Violence status is allowed with 90 days notice to terminate the lease without penalty.

 

 

Who is responsible for Recovery of Losses: 

Landlords can hold the tenant may be liable in a Domestic Violence situation liable for all losses incurred due to the early termination of a lease.

 

 

Must Landlords Change Locks:

If requested by a victim of Domestic Violence, a landlord tenants are allowed to add additional locks the locks.  Cost of the lock is at the tenant’s expense.  (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.575(4))

 

 

 

WASHINGTON LAWS FOR LOCKS AND LANDLORDS

 

Are landlords requested to change locks before new tenants:

No Statute.  Before new tenants moves in, landlords are not required to change the locks.  It is always recommended to do so.

 

 

Are landlords required to install any specific security device:

No Statute.

 

 

Do landlords have to change locks for domestic violence victims:

If requested, landlords tenants are allowed to add additional locks locks after a domestic violence occurrence.  Paid at the tenant’s expense. (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.575(4))

 

 

 

 

 

WASHINGTON PET LAWS & PET POLICIES

Washington does not have any specific pet laws.  Landlords are legally allowed to create their own pet policies and requirements.  Including tolerance for breeds, size, types, and more.  Read our guide to pet policies.

 

 

What are the max pet deposits in Washington:

No statute.

 

 

 

 

DO LANDLORDS IN WASHINGTON NEED A RENTAL LICENSE?

 

According to Washington Landlord-Tenant Laws, landlords do not need a rental license in Washington.

Landlords and owner of a residential rental property do not need to register the property.  Local cities may have different requirements, we recommend you research the local city specific laws.

 

 

 

 

 

NOTICE OF ENTRY LAWS IN WASHINGTON

Do landlords in Washington have to provide notice of entry? 

Washington does not require landlords to provide any notice.  However, it is recommended that landlords provide 48 hours’ notice for normal circumstances entry.    This includes:

  • Non-emergency maintenance and repairs
  • Improvements to property
  • Inspections
  • Showing prospective tenants or buyers.  This only requires a 24 hours’ notice

 

When can a landlord enter without notice:

According to (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.150), landlords may enter:

  • Emergencies
  • If premises appear to be empty and abandoned; and rent has not been paid

 

 

 

Can landlords enter for non-emergency maintenance and repairs?

Yes.  (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.150(6))

 

 

Can landlords enter for showings?

Yes.  (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.150(6))

 

 

 

Can landlords enter for emergencies without notice?

Yes.  (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.150(5))

 

 

Can landlords enter during Tenant’s extended absence?

Yes.  However the landlord in good faith must believe the tenant has abandoned the rental property with no intention to return, and rent has been unpaid. (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.150(5))

 

 

Can landlords enter for pesticide use?

No statute. 

 

 

 

 

WASHINGTON SUBLEASE AND ASSIGNMENT PROVISIONS

Is subleasing permitted?

No statute.  Landlords are encouraged to include a clause in the lease agreement if they want to retain control of subleasing.

 

 

Do you need the landlord consent?

If the lease includes a clause stating the landlord allows or requires consent. 

 

 

Can the LL / lease prohibit subletting?

Yes, if it included in the rental agreement.

 

 

 

 

TENANT ABANDONED PROPERTY IN WASHINGTON

 

Washington Landlord-Tenant Laws does specific procedures that landlords must follow when tenants leave belongings.  This may be from evictions or moving out at the expiration of lease.

 

How long must landlords hold Tenant’s personal property?

Landlords must hold onto the tenants personal belongings 45 days. 

 

How long notice must landlords give if law enforcement has legally locked them out?

No Statute.

 

Can the landlords sell property to pay for outstanding debts?

Yes.  (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.310)

 

What happens to excess proceeds?

If the tenant has not claimed their proceeds after 1 year, landlord can keep the proceeds plus any interest earned. (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.310)

 

How long must landlords keep records of the sale for?

Landlords are legally required to keep records of the sale for twelve months. (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.310)

 

Landlord must store the tenant’s abandoned property where:

Tenant’s possessions must be kept in a reasonably secured place.

 

 

 

Are the landlords liable for damage?

No statute.

 

 

 

 

REQUIRED RENTAL AGREEMENT DISCLOSURES FOR WASHINGTON LEASES

 

Washington Landlord-Tenant Laws requires the following be included with all Rental Agreement Disclosures:

 

Lead Paint Disclosure:  Yes.  Federal law requires every landlord to disclose known information on lead-based paint and hazards.  Landlords must provide this EPA-approved pamphlet.

Name and Address:  Yes  (Washington RCW §§ 59.18.060)

Mold:  Must provide the Mold Information from Washington Department of Health.  Provided here.

 

 

 

 

HELPFUL RESOURCES

 

Washington State Division of Consumer Services

Tenant’s Union of Washington State

Tenant’s Union of Washington State – Seattle Laws

Washington Washington RCW §§ 59 – Landlord and Tenant

Washington Washington RCW §§ 59.04 – Tenancies

Washington Washington RCW §§ 59.18 – Residential Landlord-Tenant Act

Washington Washington RCW §§ 59.20 – Manufactured/Mobile Home Landlord-Tenant Act

Washington Washington RCW §§ 12.36 – Small Claims Appeals

 

 

WASHINGTON RELATED COURT INFO & LINKS

Washington Small Claims Court Limits:

$250 to $5,000 is the limit for small claims court. (Washington RCW §§ 12.36.010)

Washington Courts – Information on Small Claims Court

 

Washington Eviction Cases Allowed in Small Claims:

No.

Washington Courts

Washington State Attorney General

Washington State Bar Association

 

 

 

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