This is a full guide on your rights as a tenant in Washington. Please Read Carefully.
Before You Rent a Place:
1. Make sure you read a lease carefully before signing it. Ask your realtor and/or landlord anything that you do not understand. Search for hidden fees or penalties, because if you sign the document it becomes legally binding.
2. If you notice something missing or something important, make sure you affirm it in writing. Never count on a verbal promise.
3. Make sure you understand who pays for heat, electricity, hot water, snow removal, trash disposal etc. Remember, when you sign the lease agreement, Washington tenant rights state that the document becomes legally binding, meaning it is legally enforceable by the courts.
4. Make sure that all utilities and appliances are working properly. Washington tenant rights state that it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the property’s appliances are functional.
5. Your landlord’s insurance will not protect you from loss or damage of your personal belongings. Because of this, you should consider purchasing renter’s insurance.
6. Make a list of substantial problems in the apartment. Include the shape/condition of the floors, windows, floors and other areas.
Washington Tenant Rights: What is a Security Deposit?
According to Washington Tenant Rights laws, there are six fees and types of deposits your landlord may collect from you when you start your lease:
1. WA Tenant Rights: Screening Fees
2. WA Tenant Rights: Security Deposits
3. WA Tenant Rights: Damage Deposits
4. WA Tenant Rights: Cleaning Fees
5. WA Tenant Rights: Last month’s rent paid in advance
6. WA Tenant Rights: A holding or application fee
Security deposits are funds given to your landlord before you move-in. Your landlord—according to Washington Tenants Rights—is required to place these funds in escrow or a bank account. The landlord will sue the deposit to cover unpaid rent or damages. You—as a tenant—are not allowed to use your deposit to pay your last month’s rent unless the landlord agrees on the transaction. When you make a security deposit, the landlord—based on Washington Tenants Rights--is legally required to do the following:
1. WA Tenant Rights: Receipts for each deposit
2. WA Tenant Rights: Written rental agreements
3. WA Tenant Rights: A statement or check-list describing the condition of the dwelling. Both the tenant and the landlord are required to sign this checklist
4. WA Tenant Rights: A formal statement that tells you—the tenant—the name and address of the escrow or bank where the deposit is kept
Washington Tenant Rights: Landlord Responsibilities
Based on the Washington Tenant Rights (taken from the Landlord-Tenant Act), all landlords in the state of Washington must:
1. WA Tenant Rights: Maintain the residence so it does not violate local and state laws in ways that endanger the health and safety of the tenant
2. WA Tenant Rights: According to Washington tenant rights, all landlords must keep common or shared areas reasonably safe and clean
3. WA Tenant Rights: According to Washington tenant rights, all landlords must fix any damages to the roof, floors, chimney or any other structural aspects of the living area
4. WA Tenant Rights: Based on Washington tenant rights, all landlords must attempt to get rid of any infestations, including rodents, insects or other pets. Note: this Washington tenant right is not applied if the infestation was caused by you or your roommates.
5. WA Tenant Rights: The landlord, according to Washington tenant rights, is required to make repairs when something breaks in the house. Note: this right is not acknowledged when the damage is caused by normal wear and tear.
6. WA Tenant Rights: The landlord, based on Washington tenant rights, is required to replace broken locks or configure functional lucks for new keys if requested to do so.
7. The landlord, according to Washington tenant rights, is required to provide smoke detectors. You, the tenant, is required to maintain the detectors, including replacing the batteries.
8. The landlord is required to fix plumbing, heating and electrical systems if they break
9. Washington tenant rights state that the water heaters must be set at 120 degrees when new tenants move in
10. The landlord must provide you with his/her name and address
11. The landlord—in response to a basic Washington tenant right—is required to provide you with a receipt for your rental payments.
Washington Tenant Rights: Tenant Responsibilities
According to the Landlord-Tenant Act, all tenants in Washington are required to:
1. WA Tenant Rights: Pay agreed-upon utility bills and all rent
2. WA Tenant Rights: Follow county, city and state regulations
3. WA Tenant Rights: Keep the dwelling clean and sanitary
4. Dispose of garbage according to dwelling’s rules
5. WA Tenant Rights: Pay for infestations if caused by the tenant and/or his/her roommates
6. WA Tenant Rights: Properly use electrical, heating and plumbing systems
7. WA Tenant Rights: Restore the dwelling to the same condition as when you moved into it (with the exception of normal wear and tear).
According to the Landlord-Tenant Act, the tenant is not permitted to:
• WA Tenant Rights: Engage in any drug-related activity on the property
• WA Tenant Rights: Engage in any gang-related activity on the property
• WA Tenant Rights: Permit any sort of damage (beyond wear and tear) to the property
• WA Tenant Rights: Cause substantial interference with other tenants’ use of the property
• WA Tenant Rights: Allow excessive garbage to pile-up in or around the space
Washington Tenant Rights: Can the Landlord Change the Rental Agreement or Raise Rent?
1. Month-to-Month Agreements:
a. The landlord is required to give you at least one month notice in writing if he/she wants to change your rent to a month-to-month agreement. Changes include: raising rent or changing rental rules. Alterations to the rental agreement may only become effective on a day the rent is due
b. If the landlord wishes to convert the dwelling to a condo, a Washington tenant right states that he/she must give the current resident(s) 120 days’ notice.
c. In a month-to-month agreement, the landlord is allowed to raise the rent as much or as often as he/she wants to. That being said, Washington tenant rights states that the rent cannot be raised to retaliate against you for something you—or your roommate—did.
2. What happens if the Property is sold?
a. Sale of the property will not automatically terminate a lease or a month-to-month agreement. When a unit is sold, the old landlord must notify you of the new owner’s address and name. The old landlord must then transfer all deposits to the new owner.
Washington Tenant Rights: When is a Landlord Allowed to Enter the Residence?
• A new Washington tenant right states that the landlord must give the resident at least 2 days’ written notice before entering the unit. The notice is required to specify the date(s) of entry and either the time or a period of time during which the entry will occur. The notice—according to this new Washington tenant right—must also include a contact number in case a rescheduling is needed.
• The landlord—according to Washington tenant rights—is required to give 1 days’ notice if he/she wants to show the unit to prospective tenants
• The landlord is required to enter a reasonable time of day
• Tenants—based on Washington tenant laws—are not allowed to refuse the landlord’s entry to improve, repair or service the unit
• In emergency situations, landlords can enter the unit without notice
• If the tenant abandons the property, the landlord may enter the unit without notice
Washington Tenant Rights: Evictions and Security Deposits
Washington tenant rights state that after you move out, your landlord has 2 weeks to give you your security deposit back. If the money is required to pay for repairs that extend beyond wear and tear, the landlord must send you a letter (within 14 days) stating why he/she is keeping all or a portion of your money. If you have trouble getting your deposit back, call CLEAR at 1-888-201-1014.
If a landlord wants a tenant to move out, the landlord—according to Washington tenant rights—must follow specific rules. This portion explains the reasons why landlords may evict a tenant and what methods may be applied. This section will also explain what you can do if your landlord attempts to evict you.
In a month-to-month agreement, landlords do not have to have any reason for requesting you to move. That being said, a Washington tenant right states that the landlord must tell you in writing that he/she wants you to move; this notice must be sent at least 20 days before the end of the rental period. For regular leases (1-year, 2-years etc. ) a landlord typically cannot ask you to move-out without a reason.
Justifiable Reasons for Eviction:
• Not Paying Rent:
o If you are even one day late with your rent, your landlord can start the eviction process. If you fall behind in rent, your landlord only has to give 3 days’ notice. If you pay your back rent within this time period, the landlord must accept it and he is not allowed to evict you. The landlord does not have to accept partial payments and if you do not pay the total debt, he/she can start the moving process
• Failing to Follow the Rental Agreement:
o If you violate the terms of the rental agreement, the landlord can give you a 10-day notice, informing you of the eviction process. An example of breaking the rental agreement would be keeping a dog when the contract cites a “no pets” rule. If you get rid of the dog within 10 days after receiving the notice, the landlord is required—according to Washington tenant right law—to stop the eviction process. If you do not fix the problem, you will be forced to move out.