A summary of Washington Landlord Tenant Laws based on state law statutes as they apply to residential lease agreements executed between landlords and tenants.
Required Disclosures (by Landlords)
Fire Protection: At the time the lease is signed, landlord must provide fire protection and safety information, including whether the building has a smoking policy, an emergency notification plan, or an evacuation plan. (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §59.18.060)
Contact Information: In the rental document or posted conspicuously on the premises, landlord must designate to the tenant the name and address of the person who is the landlord by a statement on the rental agreement or by a notice conspicuously posted on the premises. If the person designated does not reside in Washington, landlord must also designate a person who resides in the county to act as an agent for the purposes of service of notices and process. (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 59.18.060)
Mold: At the time the lease is signed, landlord must provide tenant with information provided or approved by the department of health about the health hazards associated with exposure to indoor mold. (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §59.18.060)
Nonrefundable Fees: If landlord collects a nonrefundable fee, the rental document must clearly specify that it is nonrefundable. (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 59.18.260)
Move-in Checklist: Checklists are required when landlords collect a security deposit. If landlord fails to provide checklist, landlord is liable to the tenant for the amount of the deposit. (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 59.18.260)
Security Deposit Limit
No state limit is in effect restricting how much money can be collected for security. However, the lease must state why all or a portion of the deposit may be withheld and if any fees are nonrefundable (like a pet deposit). The landlord must also provide a receipt with the name and location of the bank holding the deposit and a written statement describing the current condition of the property and any furnishings before or at the time of moving in. Single-family home leases of 12 months or longer are exempt from these requirements as well as any tenants that are also employees of the landlord (such as an onsite property manager).
Deadline for Returning Security Deposit
The amount of time allowed for returning a deposit after a tenant moves out is only 14 days in Washington state.
Small Claims Lawsuits
Any legal dispute (including landlord-tenant) can be filed in small claims court as long as the amount is less than $5,000.
A late fee can only be charged if it is written into the lease agreement.
Returned Check Fees
Rent checks that are returned unpaid require the landlord to first send a notice to the tenant about the return. Then after waiting 15 days, the tenant may be charged 12% interest plus whatever the bank charges to process it (as long as it does not exceed $40 or the amount of the check, whichever is less).
A minimum of 30 days is required in advance to modify a month-to-month tenancy. Changes to longer lease agreements have to be agreed to in writing either in the initial agreement or through modification if both parties agree to the changes (such as raising the rent).
Tenant’s Right to Withhold Rent
Washington Rev. Code Ann. §§ 59.18.110, 59.18.115 allows for a tenant to withhold rent under strict circumstances involving landlord neglect. An alternative remedy to tenants is found under Washington Rev. Code Ann. §§ 59.18.100, .110 which permits the tenant to make the necessary repairs instead and then deduct the cost from the monthly rent.
Termination and Eviction
Washington Rev. Code Ann. § 59.12.030 empowers the landlord to use a 3 day unconditional notice to quit for a holdover, serious damage to the property, carrying on an unlawful business, maintaining a nuisance, or any gang-related activity.
Any other lease violations require the use of a 10 day conditional notice to cure or quit according to Washington Rev. Code Ann. § 59.12.030(4).
Access to Property
A two day notice of entry is required for all visits except for showing the property to prospective tenants or buyers.
Washington Rev. Code Ann. § 59.18.352 allows a tenant to terminate a rental agreement where the tenant was threatened with a deadly weapon. 59.18.130(8)(b)(ii) prohibits the termination of tenancy for a victim of physical assault. 59.18.575 allows a tenant who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence to terminate lease by end of month (if violence occurred within past 90 days) E.H.B. 1645 Prohibits a landlord from terminating a tenancy where the tenant is a victim of domestic violence. 59.18.585 – If tenant provides landlord with a court order excluding a tenant, landlord must change locks and not give keys to excluded tenant.
Washington Rev. Code § 26.50.060 grants the court the authority to exclude the respondent from the household that parties share.
Tenant Screening Laws
See Washington Tenant Screening Laws.
Washington Lease Agreement
See Washington Residential Lease.
Washington Landlord-Tenant Law Statutes
Washington Rev. Code Ann. §§ 59.04.010 to 59.18.912.