Washington Tenant Rights Laws

Many of us will be a party to a residential lease at some point in our lives. As common as lease agreement are, it's important to understand your legal rights and what's in your lease before becoming a tenant. If you are a residential renter in Washington state, read on to learn more about your rights as a tenant.

Washington Tenants Rights Overview

Like all other states, Washington has laws governing the relationships between landlords and tenants. There are some areas that Washington chooses not to regulate. For example, Washington law doesn't limit how much a landlord can require you to pay as a security deposit. There is also no limit on how much a landlord can charge you as a fee for a late rent payment.

On the other hand, Washington law dictates a timeline for your landlord to either return your security deposit or provide a list of itemized deductions. Washington law also limits how much your landlord can charge as a bounced check fee.

The below chart provides details of Washington tenants' rights laws at a glance.

Statutes

Washington Residential Landlord-Tenant Act

Security Deposits

  • Washington law does not limit how much a landlord can require as a security deposit
  • Security deposit or itemized list of deductions must be provided within 14 days of tenant move-out

Paying Rent

  • Washington law does not limit how much a landlord can charge as a late fee for missed rent payments
  • Washington landlords can charge a bounced check fee of 12% plus cost of collection, not to exceed $40 or the face amount of the check, whatever is less
  • To increase the amount of rent owed on a month-to-month lease, landlords must provide 30 days' notice

Living Conditions

  • Landlords have an obligation to keep premises fit for human habitation, and comply with applicable housing codes
  • Tenant has the right to "repair and deduct" if landlord fails to make important repairs
  • Landlord must provide notice before entering tenant's unit
  • Tenant can't unreasonably withhold consent for landlord to enter to make an inspection or conduct repairs

Discrimination

  • It's illegal for landlords to discriminate against tenants on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity, marital and familial status, or military/veteran status

Ending or Renewing a Tenancy

  • Month to month tenancies can be terminated through written notice of 20 days or more
  • If tenant fails to pay rent, landlord can give 10 days' notice to pay or quit

Retaliation

  • It's illegal for landlord to retaliate or take reprisals against tenant because of good faith and lawful complaints or reports made by a tenant

Note: State regulations are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Related Washington Tenant's Rights Resources

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Before you enter into a residential lease, it's a good idea to completely understand your rights as a tenant. If, after reviewing your state's landlord/tenant laws, you have further questions, you may want to seek professional legal help. FindLaw can help match you with an experienced local attorney for your free case evaluation.

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