An Overview of Landlord-Tenant Laws in Washington State

Understanding the basic landlord-tenant state laws is important. In Washington State, these laws can be found in the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act. Once landlords and tenants understand them, they should be able to deal with common legal questions and problems without a lawyer.

Here’s an Overview of the Landlord-Tenant Laws in Washington State

 

woman-reading-technology

 

1.  Washington Fair Housing Laws

In Washington, it’s illegal for a landlord to discriminate against tenants based on their characteristics. According to Fair Housing Laws, it’s considered discriminatory if a landlord bases their actions on a tenant’s:

  • Marital status
  • Familial status
  • Disability
  • Religion
  • Race
  • National origin
  • Color
  • Age
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Sex
  • Military status

 

2.  Washington Lease Agreements

A lease is a legally binding contract between a landlord and a tenant. Both parties must adhere to its terms. Besides specifics like amenities, renovations, and other apartment features, the lease agreement also contains such provisions as:

  • Grounds for lease termination and eviction
  • Roommate and guest policies
  • The security deposit amount and what it covers
  • The rent rate and payment schedule
  • Repair policy and procedures
  • The length of the tenancy

 

3.  Security Deposits in Washington State

Most Washington landlords charge tenants a security deposit. The Washington state landlord-tenant law doesn’t set any limit as to the amount a landlord can charge. However, local laws may dictate the exact amount.

When requiring a deposit, a landlord must:

  • Not charge a tenant for normal cleaning if he/she has paid a non-refundable cleaning fee
  • Not designate a non-refundable fee as a deposit or include it in the deposit
  • Return the deposit with an itemized accounting for any amount withheld within 14 days after a tenant vacates
  • Place deposits in a trust account in Washington and give the tenant a receipt indicating its location
  • Describe in the contract the conditions under which a deposit may be retained by the landlord
  • Give a written rental agreement and provide an inspection checklist signed by both parties stating the condition and cleanliness of the premises.

 

4.  Landlord Responsibilities in Washington State

Common landlord responsibilities in Washington State include:

  • Provide adequate heat, water, and hot water for the unit.
  • Provide garbage cans and make arrangements for waste removal, except for single-family residences.
  • Maintain a dwelling in weather-tight condition.
  • Maintain all heating, plumbing, electrical and other facilities.
  • Provide the tenant with adequate keys and locks.
  • Provide for the control of insects, rodents, and other pests, except when caused by the tenant.
  • Keep common and shared areas clean and safe.
  • Maintain all structural components.
  • Maintain the premises to comply with all state and local statutes and codes that affect tenant’s health and safety.

 

pile-of-keys

 

It is illegal for a landlord to:

  • Charge a potential tenant more than the actual cost of a background check.
  • Retaliate against a tenant exercising their legal rights.
  • Attempt to physically remove a tenant.
  • Confiscate a tenant’s personal property.
  • Lockout a tenant.
  • Intentionally shut off a tenant’s utilities.

 

5.  Tenant’s Responsibilities in Washington State

Common tenant responsibilities include:

  • Making timely rent payments.
  • Keeping smoke detectors in good working order.
  • Providing the landlord with a key if the locks are changed.
  • Leaving the premises in as good a condition as it was at the beginning of the tenancy.
  • Properly disposing of all waste and eliminate pest infestation caused by the tenant.
  • Keeping the premises clean.
  • Abiding by the landlord rules as well as all state and local statutes.
  • Properly using and operating all electrical, plumbing, heating, gas, and appliances supplied by the landlord.

 

The tenant shall not:

  • Engage in or permit anyone else to engage in drug-related activity on the premises.
  • Unreasonably withhold consent for the landlord to enter the premises.
  • Allow nuisance on the premises.
  • Permit family or guests to damage the premises.
  • Negligently or intentionally damage the property or remove equipment from the rental unit.

 

6.  Required Landlord Disclosures

 

woman-research-tablet

 

Under Washington state landlord-tenant law, landlords must disclose the following information to tenants:

  • Ownership: Tenants in Washington reserve the right to know who the landlord is. A landlord can provide this information either through the lease agreement or by posting it in a conspicuous place.
  • Agents: Landlords who live out of state can designate a person who lives in the county to act as his or her agent. But if no person is designated as agent, then the person receiving the rental payments is assumed to be the agent.
  • Lead paint: For buildings built before 1978, federal law requires that the landlord place a “Lead Warning Statement” in their lease.
  • Mold: Landlords must provide their tenants with information about the health hazards associated with exposure to indoor mold and how it can be controlled.

 

7.  Termination of Tenancy

For month-to-month tenancies, a lease can be terminated if either party gives the other a twenty-day notice. For fixed-term leases, the lease automatically ends at the expiry of the term. A notice isn’t necessary.

The landlord may, however, terminate the lease early because of the following reasons:

  • The tenant is a member of the armed forces and receives reassignment or deployment orders.
  • The tenant conducts illegal businesses or engages in drug-related activities.
  • The tenant causes destruction of property or causes nuisance.
  • The tenant fails to correct a violation of the rental agreement or lease.
  • The tenant fails to pay the rent.

 

8.  Tenant’s Right to Privacy in Washington State

The right to privacy is a very important one. In Washington State, all tenants have a legal right to privacy and the quiet enjoyment of their home. The following are laws governing a tenant’s right to privacy in Washington:

  • The landlord must first give the tenant a two-day notice prior to entering the rental unit. The only exception is if there is an emergency, abandonment, or the landlord has a court order.
  • The landlord must not harass the tenant or abuse their right of entry. Harassment may include entering the premises at odd times or excessively showing the premises to prospective tenants.
  • The landlord shall be liable for a penalty of up to $100 for each subsequent violation if he/she continually harasses the tenant.
  • The tenant must not unreasonably refuse the landlord access to the rental unit for the purposes of repairs and inspection.

This article is intended to be helpful and informative. It isn’t intended to be used as a legal advice for your particular problem. Should you need more clarification, check Fair Housing Laws as well as seek professional help from a qualified Washington attorney.

If you require help with your rental property don’t hesitate to contact us here today!

Everything You Need to Know on How to Break a Lease in Washington State

As a tenant, you may want to break your lease for various reasons, which may or may not be legally justified. In any case, if you’re a tenant in Washington, here’s what you need to know about breaking a lease in Washington state.

 

Renter’s Rights and Responsibilities When Signing a WA State Rental Agreement  

washington-state

A rental agreement is legally binding; that is, you and your landlord must strictly adhere to the agreement’s terms. As a tenant, you have the following rights.

  • You cannot be forced to move out before the lease expires unless you commit a serious violation such as engaging in criminal activities within the premises.
  • You are not obligated to agree with any changes to the lease agreement after you’ve already signed the same unless the landlord follows the necessary legal procedures before altering the agreement.
  • If the landlord has valid reasons to evict you, you must be given due notice. For example, if you consistently fail to pay rent on time, the landlord must serve you a 3-day notice to settle your dues or move out.

Generally, you’re legally bound to pay rent for the full lease term (usually one year) on your rental property, whether you’re living on the property or not. However, there are exceptions to the rule, as follows.

(more…)

The Best Neighborhoods in Spokane, WA

Spokane-WASpokane is a cultural, financial and recreational center spanning a large area of Washington State. It’s also the state’s second largest city and features dozens of breathtaking lakes and parks, as well as a burgeoning wine scene.

Yet its glory remains overshadowed by its sister cities Tacoma and Seattle. Since its days as a rail hub, Spokane has attracted tourists due to its stunning natural beauty. There, you can hike through countless nature preserves, bike the beautiful Centennial Trail, shred fresh powder, or book a whitewater adventure.

If you’re thinking of moving to the Pacific Northwest, here’s a list of the best neighborhoods in Spokane, WA.

(more…)

Quick Guide to The Washington State Eviction Process

washingtonWhile being a landlord can be a financially rewarding experience, it isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. You are bound to be faced with many challenges. The most important among them is dealing with difficult tenants, and how to evict them if it becomes necessary.

An eviction is a legal recourse you take when you need to remove a tenant from your rental property. This legal action to kick out the tenant is referred to as unlawful detainer. It is a special Washington eviction law proceeding that determines who is entitled to possession of the property. (more…)

Different Types of Real Estate Investment Strategies for Beginners

The real estate industry is huge and thus presents a lot of opportunities to would-be investors. When it comes to property investing, an investor first needs to be aware of the different real estate investment strategies that exist in order to minimize risk as much as possible.

To help you decide how to invest in property, below are 6 common real estate investment strategies to consider. You can pick one based on your budget, time, and long-term goals. (more…)

Why You Should Live in Spokane, WA

When most people think of Spokane WA, the first things that come to mind are the Spokane Waterfalls, Manito Park and Centennial Trail. Although Seattle is located near Spokane, Seattle tends to have high rents due to its high tourism and tech jobs. Luckily, there are many cities in Washington State that offer a lively city without the high prices, such as Spokane.

Located about four hours east of Seattle, Spokane is Washington State’s second largest city. Despite holding this title, it’s still relatively small holding a population of a little over 200,000. So, why should you move here over larger cities?

(more…)

Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Investment Property in Spokane

The real estate market in Spokane is extremely competitive right now. Yet, even though home prices are rising, Spokane is still very affordable when compared to Seattle. And homes in the area rent quickly, which is good news for investors. However, the challenge is that the properties that are for sale also go fast. So, you need to be able to make a swift decision if you want to purchase an investment property. Quick decisions can often lead to mistakes if you are not careful. To help you in this process, here the mistakes you’ll want to avoid when buying investment property in Spokane. (more…)

What To Do When a Tenant Stops Paying Rent

The city of Spokane boasts of many fine attractions. Notable lures include a thriving economy, stunning architecture, and numerous outdoor recreation options. It explains why rental property investors are attracted to the area. While finding tenants in Spokane is very achievable, ensuring that the occupants pay the rent promptly may not be as easy.

At times, a tenant might even stop paying the rent altogether. If you are the landlord in such a situation, how do you handle it? The following are a few pointers on what to do when a Spokane tenant stops paying rent.

Assess the tenant’s rental history

The minute you discover that your tenant has stopped paying the rent, you need to ascertain his or her rent payment history. Have they behaved similarly before, or is it the first time? If this is the first time you’re having issues with the tenant perhaps there is a very good reason why they missed the rent payment. (more…)

How To Screen Tenants For Your Rental Property

Thanks to its stunning architecture, flourishing economy, and numerous exciting recreational activities, Spokane has become an attractive haven for most people. While this may sound like a windfall to rental property owners, it is not devoid of challenges. A primary one being landlords have to be extra vigilant when screening prospective renters to avoid ending up with a problematic tenant.

So, just how can a Spokane property owner successfully screen prospective tenants?

Here are a few useful tips that you can employ. (more…)

Best Strategies for Collecting Rent on Time

rentA common challenge among landlords is how to get the tenants to pay their rent on time. It can be annoying considering that rental income is the primary reason why you invested in the rental property in the first place. Besides, difficulty in collecting the payments might hinder you from meeting other obligations like paying off the mortgage, carrying out property maintenance, reinvesting, or settling bills. So, how can you ensure that your residents pay promptly and in a consistent, smooth manner? Here are pointers to help you out. (more…)