A commercial lease agreement Washington State contains statewide restrictions on rental terms. Seattle has additional laws regarding the landlord-tenant relationship.

Washington Landlord-Tenant Laws

In Washington State, there exist several laws that govern the relationship between landlord and tenant:

  • Washington RCW §§ 59 – Landlord and Tenant.
  • Washington RCW §§ 59.04 – Tenancies.
  • Washington RCW §§ 59.18 – Residential Landlord-Tenant Act.
  • Washington RCW §§ 59.18.060 – Official Duties of a Landlord.
  • Washington RCW §§ 59.18.130 – Official Duties of a Tenant.
  • Washington RCW §§ 59.20 – Manufactured/Mobile Home Landlord-Tenant Act.
  • Washington RCW §§ 12.36 – Small Claims Appeals.

The city of Seattle has its own additional laws:

  • Seattle Landlord Tenant Laws SMC §§ 22.206.160 – Duties of owners.
  • Seattle Laws on Property Owner and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities.

Washington Security Deposit Laws

Washington State does not place a limit on the maximum amount of a security deposit. A security deposit must be returned within 14 days of vacancy. A separate bank account for security deposits is required.

A deposit may not be collected unless a written rental agreement is provided, along with a written statement or checklist detailing the cleanliness and condition of the space and furnishings, including any damages. This itemized list shall include floors, walls, carpeting, countertops, curtains, appliances, and furniture. This document must be signed and dated by both the tenant and the landlord, and a copy must be given to the tenant.

The landlord shall also provide a receipt of the deposit, including the name, address, and location of the depository, of which the tenant should be notified if there are any changes.

Non-refundable fees are allowed on a lease agreement, but may not be included as part of the security deposit, and must be clearly marked as a “non-refundable fee” within a written agreement. Pet deposits and additional fees are also allowed.

Washington Rent and Fee Laws

Should a landlord fail to provide essential services, such as heat or water, a tenant will be allowed to withhold rent; however, the tenant must notify the appropriate government authorities and place the withheld rent into an escrow account.

In addition, a tenant is allowed to deduct rent if they must make repairs. If the issue requires a licensed professional to make the repair, the tenant is required to provide an estimate to the landlord before the work is done. The cost of the repair must not exceed the amount of two months' rent. If the issue does not necessitate a licensed professional, the tenant may make the repair his- or herself in a quality manner, and the cost may not exceed one month's rent. During any 12-month period, do-it-yourself repair deductions may not exceed one month's rent.

If a tenant's check is returned, a landlord may charge a returned check fee, but the amount must not exceed 40 dollars or the value of the check, whichever is less.

Washington Notices, Entry, and Termination

A landlord is required to give two days' notice before entering the premises. If the landlord is showing the property to a prospective buyer or renter, only one day's notice is required. If maintenance or repairs are warranted, the landlord may enter with notice. In an emergency, entry may be granted with no notice at all.

Once a lease is expired, a landlord does not need to notify a tenant if they plan to enter the premises. In addition, the landlord does not need to notify the tenant of the date or time of the move-out inspection.

If a tenant violates the terms of their lease agreement, they must vacate within 10 days of notice, or three days if illegal activity or nuisance is the cause of termination.

The landlord shall not shut off utilities. The landlord may be required to pay up to $100 per day of disrupted service, plus any applicable court fees and attorney costs.

Lockouts are prohibited.

Breaking a Lease in Washington

Whether a tenant is using the premises or not, they are legally required to pay the full amount of their lease term. There are some exceptions, which include:

  • Unlawful harassment by the landlord or landlord's agent.
  • Stalking or domestic violence.
  • Failure of the landlord to address a repair.
  • Military deployment.
  • Health concerns.
  • Safety concerns.

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