Washington Rental Laws

Written on February 21, 2014 by , updated on July 24, 2017

Flag of WashingtonThis article summarizes some key Washington Landlord-Tenant laws applicable to residential rental units.

The Official State Statutes and other reputable municipal sources were used to research this information. All sources are cited appropriately.

With that said, landlord-tenant laws are always changing and you have a responsibility to perform your own research when applying the laws to your unique situation.

If you have a legal question or concern, I only recommend contacting a licensed attorney referral service that is operated by the state bar association.

Official Rules and Regulations

Security Deposit:

  • Security Deposit Maximum: No Statute
  • Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: 21 days (RCW §§ 59.18.280)
  • Security Deposit Interest: Unless otherwise agreed in writing, the landlord shall be entitled to receipt of interest paid on such trust account deposits. (RCW §§ 59.18.270)
  • Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: Required (RCW §§ 59.18.270)
  • Non-refundable Fees: Allowed, but they must not be part of the security deposit, and must be clearly designated as a “non-refundable fee” in a written lease agreement. (RCW §§ 59.18.285)
  • Pet Deposits and Additional Fees: Allowed (RCW §§ 59.18.285)
  • Require Written/Signed Move-In Checklist: No deposit may be collected by a landlord unless the rental agreement is in writing and a written checklist or statement specifically describing the condition and cleanliness of or existing damages to the premises and furnishings, including, but not limited to, walls, floors, countertops, carpets, drapes, furniture, and appliances, is provided by the landlord to the tenant at the commencement of the tenancy. The checklist or statement shall be signed and dated by the landlord and the tenant, and the tenant shall be provided with a copy of the signed checklist or statement. (RCW §§ 59.18.260)
  • Require Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Yes (RCW §§ 59.18.280)
  • Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No Statute
  • Receipt of Deposit: Yes, the landlord shall provide the tenant with a written receipt for the deposit and shall provide written notice of the name and address and location of the depository and any subsequent change thereof. (RCW §§ 59.18.270)
  • Failure to Comply: If the landlord collects a deposit without providing a written checklist at the commencement of the tenancy, the landlord is liable to the tenant for the amount of the deposit, and the prevailing party may recover court costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees. (RCW §§ 59.18.260)

Lease, Rent & Fees:

  • When Rent Is Due: No Statute
  • Rent Increase Notice: 30-day written notice for month-to-month leases. (RCW §§ 59.18.140)
  • Rent Receipt: A landlord shall provide a receipt for any payment made by a tenant in the form of cash and upon the request of a tenant, a written receipt for any payments made in a form other than cash. (RCW §§ 59.18.063)
  • Rent Grace Period: No Statute
  • Late Fees: No Statute
  • Prepaid Rent: No Statute
  • Returned Check Fees: Allowed, but must not exceed forty dollars or the face amount of the check, whichever is less. I recommend using Cozy to prevent bounced checks. (RCW §§ 62A.3-515)
  • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): Yes, but tenant must also notify government authorities and must deposit the withheld rent into an escrow account. (RCW §§ 59.18.115)
  • Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: Yes
    • If the repair requires a licensed professional, the tenant must provide the landlord with an estimate before the work is performed and the cost of the repair must not exceed two month’s rent. (RCW §§ 59.18.100)
    • If the repair does not require a licensed professional, the tenant may repair the defective condition in a workmanlike manner and the cost of the repair must not exceed one month’s rent. The total costs of repairs deducted in any twelve-month period under this subsection shall not exceed one month’s rent. (RCW §§ 59.18.100(3))
  • Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney Fees: Yes (RCW §§ 59.18.280, 59.18.290)
  • Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Rerent: Yes (RCW §§ 59.18.310)
  • Abandonment: Landlord can store and eventually sell the tenant’s personal property to compensate for damage. Landlord must follow specific instructions found in RCW §§ 59.18.310(b).

Notices and Entry:

  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in Lease: No notice is needed as the lease simply expires. (RCW §§ 59.04.030)
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Month-to-Month Lease (or other periodic term): 20 days or more from lease expiration. Less than 20 days notice is allowed for any tenant who is a member of the armed forces and receives deployment orders. (RCW §§ 59.18.200(1a-b))
  • Termination of Unapproved Tenancy (Squatters): Unapproved tenant is liable for rent for the time he/she occupied the dwelling and must turnover the premise immediately at the demand of the owner. (RCW §§ 59.04.050)
  • Notice of Date/Time of Move-Out Inspection: No Statute
  • Notice of Termination of All Other Leases for Nonpayment: 3 days (RCW §§ 59.12.030(3)
  • Termination for Lease Violation: 10 days (RCW §§ 59.12.030(4)), 3 days for illegal or nuisance activity. (RCW §§ 59.12.030(5))
  • Required Notice before Entry: Two days (RCW §§ 59.18.150(6))
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): Yes (RCW §§ 59.18.150(6))
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Showings: Yes, only one day’s notice is required. (RCW §§ 59.18.150(6))
  • Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Yes (RCW §§ 59.18.150(5))
  • Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: No Statute
  • Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No Statute
  • Lockouts Allowed: No (RCW §§ 59.18.290) (pdf)
  • Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No. Landlord may be obligated to pay actual damages plus $100 per day of disrupted service plus court/attorney costs. (RCW §§ 59.18.300)

Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:

  • Official Duties of Landlord: For a detailed summary, read RCW §§ 59.18.060.
  • Official Duties of Tenant: For a detailed summary, read RCW §§ 59.18.130.
  • Name and Addresses: The 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. (RCW §§ 59.18.060)
  • Copy of the Lease: For written rental agreements, the landlord shall provide an executed copy to each tenant who signs the rental agreement. The tenant may request one free replacement copy during the tenancy. (RCW §§ 59.18.065)
  • Lead Disclosure: Landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet on Lead-based paint hazards.
  • Adverse Action Notice: If rejecting an applicant during the screening process, the landlord must give notice using the template found in RCW §§ 59.18.257.
  • Domestic Violence Situations:
    • Proof of Status: Landlord is entitled to verify claim of Domestic Violence status. Tenant must complete the form found in RCW §§ 59.18.575(1b).
    • Termination of Lease: A tenant is allowed to terminate a lease with proof of Domestic Violence status, however the request to terminate must happen within 90 days from the incident date. (RCW §§ 59.18.575(1b))
    • Landlord Cannot Terminate Lease: A landlord may not terminate a tenancy, fail to renew a tenancy, or refuse to enter into a rental agreement based on the tenant’s or applicant’s or a household member’s status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. (RCW §§ 59.18.580)
    • Landlord Cannot Fail to Renew: A landlord may not terminate a tenancy, fail to renew a tenancy, or refuse to enter into a rental agreement based on the tenant’s or applicant’s or a household member’s status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, or based on the tenant or applicant having terminated a rental agreement under RCW 59.18.575. (RCW §§ 59.18.580)
    • Responsibility of Rent: Depending on the situation, the tenant may still be liable for the rent for the month in which he or she terminated the rental agreement. Read RCW §§ 59.18.575(2) and RCW §§ 59.18.575(3) for clarification.
    • Locks: Tenant is allowed to add locks to the dwelling at the tenant’s expense. (RCW §§ 59.18.575(4)59.18.585)
  • Retaliation: Landlord must not terminate or refuse to renew a lease to a tenant who has filed an official complaint to a Government Authority or has exercised his or her legal rights and remedies in the last 90 days. (RCW §§ 59.18.24059.18.250)
  • City of Seattle: Landlords with units in Seattle must include The Summary of Washington State and City of Seattle Landlord/Tenant Regulations as addendums to the lease.

Court Related:

Business Licenses:

  • Business License Required: No state-wide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements.  Check with your local governing authority.
  • Seattle Rental Registration: Rental properties in Seattle must be registered with the Department of Planning and Development. (source) (SMC §§ 22.214)

Overview Video

This video reviews some of the most common landlord-tenant laws in Washington. The Northwest Justice Project has produced multiple videos on the topic.

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326 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Jessica

    I live in Washington state in apartments ran by pacific living properties, Inc. We have exteriors doors that are for security and a buzz box. We have six tenants in one complex with three floors, so yes we share a small stair case with many people, animals and maybe half the time with bugs. The tenants have keys to this door, but if people were to come visit one of these tenants they would use our wonderful buzz box to buzz people in. The security door is a wooded door that swells when there is a lot of moisture. This “Security” door of ours doesn’t shut by its self, the lock doesn’t click unless you pull towards yourself a bit while turning the knob at the same time. Not to mention that no one takes time to actually close the security—

    • Whatnot

      Is this in Burien, or another Pacific Living property? we have same issue, just want to make sure it’s the same.

      thanks

  • Jessica

    Door. I am female and I’m 22 living with my mom who is 46 and is disable and can’t work. We live on the bottom floor because we felt safe knowing there was a security door. Just a couple days ago our buzz box which is you press and it makes a telephone ring letting you know someone is out side for you now it doesn’t work. The management says they fixed it but their handy man just comes and slams the door a couple time and reports that it’s fixed. The security door has been “fixed” 6 times already. The manager crystal had the nerve to say “well that’s going to cost money” and “the door isn’t supposed to close”. I just want to feel secure on the bottom floor. I never been on the bottom floor and I’m regretting it and I fear for my mom.

  • Lisa

    I can’t find a specific answer here regarding replacement charges for paint and carpet after 7 1/2 years in an apartment. I believe both would be past their “useful” life and that I wouldn’t be responsible for either on move-out. I need to prepare for that battle at the end of this month. Advice?

    • Joel Corley

      You would not be responsible for items that are beyond their useful life.

      However, the landlord might be able to prove that the useful life was, say, 10 years rather than 7 1/2 years, but even in that case, you would only be responsible for pro-rated value. If that occurs, be sure to ask for receipts justifying the replacement cost and justification of what the claimed useful life. Also be sure to show any pictures or other evidence you have that demonstrates normal wear and tear, if needed.

  • Kata Ritenburg

    The last tenant at my Seattle rental property left behind a large armoire when they moved out and returned the keys. As landlord, what is my responsibility in handling this situation? Can I just decide to sell, donate or keep it since it was left behind with not communication from the tenant?

  • Laura

    Hi, I cannot find anything online specifically about renting a room in one’s home in WA state.

    1. Do anti-discriminatory laws apply when you are looking for roommates? (I would prefer not to live with a male, for instance.)

    2. Do I need to set aside money for taxes, and keep track, etc? If so, how much?

    Thank you.

    • Joel Corley

      This article has a good discussion:
      http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-09-03/classified/ct-mre-0905-renting-20100903_1_fair-housing-exemption-roomer

      Placing and ad for female roommates only is legal. Limiting by other protected criteria (race, religion, national origin, etc) would likely be illegal.

      Your taxes will be reported to the IRS on Schedule E. You will be able to deduct a portion of your utilities, depreciate a portion of your house, etc. based on the percentage of the house rented. The percentage is in either % of square feet or percentage of rooms rented. WA sales tax and B&O taxes are not collected for long term rentals.

    • Joel Corley

      For how much you need to set aside, you should determine how much rental income you will have, subtract the expenses listed above, and account for it in quarterly estimates.

      Example:
      $650/mo rent
      $50/mo deductible expenses
      $250/mo deductible depreciation expense

      Total
      $350/mo or $4200/yr taxable income
      If you are in 25% Federal tax bracket, then withhold $1,050 per year

      This is passive income, not self employed income so SSA and Medicare withholding does not apply.
      Also note that depreciation is recaptured when the house is sold at a flat 25% rate.

  • Denise Fodor

    Re: Washington law for landlords, I read on this site there were no statutes on late fees. So to be clear, we can establish our own late fees? I can’t seem to find anything on this subject.

    Thank you

    • walter

      I have been told by our eviction service people the courts allow max late fee not more than 10% of a months rent. That seems to be the reasonable standard relayed to use. walter northfieldproperties.info

  • Dianne Laurier

    My apt flooded from the apt upstairs. A professional service came set up 6 fans that ran 24 -7 for 4 days. We were unable to sleep due to the noise,or use the restroom. Who is responsible for the extra power usage? Should landlord compensate for inconvenience by deducting some rent as well?

  • Lisa

    After renting 5 years my landlord calls me to tell me that they are placing the home up for sale this was on a Thursday by Monday it was on the market and a Century 21 sign on the lawn. The phone calls started from landlord wanting to show the place(I work nights). When I asked how long before I had to move I was told if it sells on the 10th of the month you have until the 20th to get out.
    I told him that I would be moved out within a week, thinking that I had no obligation to give a written notice I moved out. Now I am being told my $1,000 cleaning deposit is being with help because I did not give written notice.
    I never received anything in writting that they were palcing it up for sale.
    Do I have any legal stance on receiving dep?

  • Jennifer

    I have lived in the same apartment for 20 years, I am curious if we have any rights reguarding the property?

  • Mohd

    I have a house. I rent the rooms. 3 bedrooms to be exact. But, I does not live in that house. But, I usually come checking the house; make sure the house is clean and organize, the recycle and garbage is pick up. I do all those duties in common area like bathroom, dining room, living room, kitchen,and family room. I did not enter the tenant bedroom. Question: is it illegal for me to enter my house and doing those duties?

  • Michelle Rand

    New home ownership in trailer park, and all the rediculous new rules that are being made, is there something I can do

    • kimberly a gregory

      I have a friend that lives in a retirement mobile park that is experiencing the same situation. The company that manages is out of CA

  • Britnee

    Hello. My landlord is saying I owe for pet damage to the carpet. When I moved in, the home was not ready. It was not cleaned, the carpet were not done until after we were already moving in our stuff. She did not charge me a deposit, but she is now claiming that I owe for pet damage. I got the carpets professionally cleaned and the vendor said the carpets were fine. How do I go about fighting the pet damage, if I already cleaned the carpets. The carpet is over 7 years old. When does date does Washington require a move out statement to be mailed? Also, do they have to prove any damages?

    Please advise.

  • KB

    I live in an apartment and my lease is month to month. Recently my landlord sold the property to Vista Property management. My question is, do they have right to make tenants fill out a new application for credit check before they give us a new lease? And also if i choose to move out do i get my deposit back? Please im curious. Thanks

  • Kevin

    Can the landlord regulate how many plants I can have on my porch in Tacoma? In the lease, there is also a notice about only having gas grills but I am under the impression the grill is not allowed on the porch. We have been stolen from because of the homeless issur that we have in the next lot to our apartment.

  • Wendy

    I am a property owner and want to move back in. My renters lease does not end for 3 more months. Can I evict them prior to the end of the lease?

  • Phyllis

    We’ve rented for ten years and have a good relationship as long as he gets his way. Over the years we have done all small repairs without asking to be paid back. My husband is a retired contractor so the repairs have been first rate. Except for some vent pipes in the garage that are corroded, there is only normal wear and tear. The yard was 70% weeds when we moved in and after spending over $300 trying to get a nice yard, and being told he would do nothing, i stopped trying. Now he wants to sell and gave us plenty of notice. I postponed 3 needed surgeries to concentrate on the move. Being on a fixed income, we have not found affordable rent. Can we force him to giving us more time?

  • Kristy

    Hi my question may sound dumb but , we have renters in our previous home that we let know ahead of time so they could try to obtain financing to purchase it but we’re denied. Then they were told when we put it on the market so they could start the process of finding a new place to live in plenty of time. Now it’s finally in the process of being sold and they are upset . We no longer have a lease as it’s now just a month to month one, I have made sure to give them back their deposit before they have moved it to help them with expenses AND NOT CHARGED THEM RENT . They say they will be gone but is there anything I’m failing to do? They know it’s been purchased. Help please. Thanks in advance !!!

  • Laura Park

    Is there any statute that talks about early termination of lease fee? Is there a maximum amount? How does one collect on it?

  • Angie

    I have a renter whose lease expired several months ago (it was a one-year lease) and it has reverted to a month to month lease. My daughter is relocating and I would like to move them into our rental. Do I have the right, as a property owner, to give my tenant a 30 day notice to vacate, so that I can move my daughter in?

  • Carol

    My daughter rents in Seattle and has a yearly lease. She is looking to move back east and wanted to change her lease from yearly to month to month. However, she was informed that if she does that, her rent will increase by 42%. Is this legal in Seattle?

  • Haylie

    Can you be 16 or 17 to rent a home ? I live in spokane Washington . i just moved here i just know in California you must be 18 to rent just not sure about out here .

  • Teri Cooper

    I live in SHAG Alderwood CT, Lynnwood WA. During a meeting with the head of SHAG, Jay Alcott it was noted that 3 families had been locked out following a death. Rent was up to date. Neither our manager, Sam Nye or Jay Alcott thought this was an issue. We aren’t getting info on what we need to do to stop this.

  • Leslie

    I am renting a room from a family member ( I know, it wasn’t the smartest thing go do) in Everett Washington. The landlird tenant laws still apply don’t they? I was told a week before rent was due that my rent was being increased by $150.00. Is that legal in my situation? I don’t think it is but would like confirmation please. Thank you.

  • TC

    My dog has done damage the carpet in one room (dining room) — it stinks and I know it. If I decide to get this carpet replaced at my own expense do I need to inform my landlord?

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