Washington Tenant-Landlord Law
The Fair Housing Act was created in order to ensure that everyone is treated equally during the housing process. It protects tenants from discrimination when seraching for a rental property. At the federal level the Fair Housing Act protects the following classes:
- National Origin
- Familial Status
Learn about fair housing at the federal level here.
In addition to federal fair housing laws, Washington prohibits discrimination on the basis of
- Marital status
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Military/veteran status
- Source of Income
- Landlords are not required to charge a security deposit, but they can if they choose to. There is no statute for the maximum a landlord can charge for security deposits.
- It is required that landlords keep their security deposits in a separate account, and cannot commingle them with any other account (RCW §§ 59.18.270).
Rent and Late Fees
- All agreements between the landlord and the tenant should be written clearly in the lease agreement. If landlords wish to increase the rent on a unit, they must give the tenant at least a 30 day notice (RCW §§ 59.18.140).
- There is no statute for the maximum a landlord can charge for late fees.
- Tenants are allowed to repair on their own and deduct rent, but the repair must be done by a professional. In order to be able to deduct rent, the tenant must provide his/her landlord with the information and the estimate before the work begins. The cost of the repair will not exceed 2 month’s rent (RCW §§ 59.18.100).
Notices and Entry
- In Washington, tenants must give a landlord with a month to month lease notification of early termination of lease 20 days before the end of that month (RCW §§ 59.18.200(1a-b)). The only reason which a tenant could terminate their lease any earlier is if he or she is a member of the armed forces and he or she is deployed.
- Landlords to not need to give a tenant notice for a move-out inspection.
- The notice given by landlords to tenants for nonpayment of rent must be 3 days before filing for eviction (RCW §§ 59.12.030(3)).
- The notice given by landlords to tenants for lease violation must be 10 days before filing for eviction (RCW §§ 59.12.030(4)), but only 3 days if the action is illegal (RCW §§ 59.12.030(5)).
- The required notice before a nonemergency entry is 2 days, or 48 hours (RCW §§ 59.18.150(6)). However, emergency entry is allowed without notice.
- In the lease agreement, the landlord must lay out the specific duties of both the tenant and the landlord (see Washington Landlord Duties and Washington Tenant Duties). Landlords must provide a copy of the lease to every tenant that signs said lease, and they are allowed at least one free copy of the lease (RCW §§ 59.18.065).
- Landlords must also disclose lead paint hazards within the unit due to the Lead Disclosure Rule. If a unit does have lead based paint, landlords must give notice to the tenant and also include an information packet (see Lead Disclosure Rule above).
- In instances of domestic violence/abuse, tenants may terminate their lease early if they can provide the landlord with proof of incident within 90 days of the incident (RCW §§ 59.18.575(1b)). Tenants may still be responsible for rent for that month that they terminate early, depending on the lease agreement (RCW §§ 59.18.575(2)).
- When it is failure to pay rent, the tenant has 3 days to pay you otherwise the eviction notice can be filed with the courts.
- When there is another lease violation (e.g. subletting), the tenant has 10 days to resolve the violation from the point that the eviction notice is served. Otherwise the eviction notice will be filed with the courts.
As the situation with COVID-19 continues to evolve, the moratorium on foreclosures and evictions will continue to impact millions of rental properties across the country. For the most up to date information on this legislation, as well as to see if your city or county has additional directives in place, please contact your local representative.