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State of WA Landlord Tenant Act

State of WA Landlord Tenant Act

Overview of the sections of the State of WA Landlord Tenant Act with the most common issues. Includes items such as deposits, screenings, notices and more... Presented by Attorney Jared Hawkins of Virtual In-House Counsel


Blue Mountain Rentals

November 13, 2013


  1. Residential Landlord-Tenant Act Virtual In-House Counsel, PLLC

  2. 2 Overview • Background • When Does Act Apply? •

    Landlord Duties? • Tenant Duties? • What if Landlord or Tenant Breaches the Lease?
  3. 3 My Background • Air Force Judge Advocate, 2005 -

    2011 • Virtual In-House Counsel, 2011 – present – Landlord/Tenant Issues; Evictions – General Litigation – Business & Employment Law – Real Property/Water Law – Estate Planning
  4. 4 Disclaimer • This presentation is intended to provide general

    information about the Washington Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (RLTA), Chapter 59.18 RCW. Not every detail of the RLTA will be discussed or explained. • Attending this presentation does not create an attorney/client relationship and information provided is not intended as legal advice.
  5. RCW 59.18.040 5 Residential Landlord-Tenant Act: When does it Apply?

    • Applies: – Residences, not commercial leases • Does not Apply: – Mobile homes (renting lot) (RCW 59.20) – Nursing homes – Hotel, motel, transient lodging – Some houses on leased farm land – Prison
  6. RCW 59.18.257 6 Landlord Duties: Screening • Screening Tenants (T):

    – Prior notice to T required (of types of information to be accessed, criteria that may result in denial, and if consumer report is to be used, the name and address of the agency and the tenant’s rights to obtain a free copy of the report in the event of the denial) – Landlord (L) may charge prospective T for costs, but only if information above is provided
  7. RCW 59.18.257 7 Landlord Duties: Screening • Screening Tenants (continued):

    – If L takes adverse action, L must provide a written notice of the adverse action to the T that states the reasons for the adverse action – Format must be substantially similar to format provided at RCW 59.18.527.
  8. RCW 59.18.210 8 Landlord Duties: Lease • Lease Term: –

    1 year leases must be in writing – Need to be notarized and have property description if longer than one year • Lease Cannot Waive Rights Guaranteed by RLTA
  9. 9 Landlord Duties: Lease • Landlord Owes to the Tenant:

    – Copy of executed lease to each T signing the lease (RCW 59.18.065) – Receipt for any cash payments; receipt whenever requested (RCW 59.18.063)
  10. RCW 59.18.253 10 Landlord Duties: Deposits/Fees • Waiting List Fees:

    Unlawful • Fee/Deposit to Hold Unit: – L must provide T a receipt – L must provide T a written statement of conditions under which the fee/deposit may be retained – If T does occupy unit, L must credit fee/deposit towards first month’s rent or security deposit
  11. RCW 59.18.253 11 Landlord Duties: Deposits/Fees • Fee/Deposit to Hold

    Unit (continued): – If T does NOT occupy unit, L may keep up to the full amount of the deposit so long as it is in accordance with the written statement of conditions provided prospective T – Violations of this section by L may result in T being awarded damages of up to 2 x amount of deposit, and payment of T’s court costs and reasonable attorney fees
  12. RCW 59.18.260 12 Landlord Duties: Deposits/Fees • Security Deposit (SD):

    – To collect SD: • Lease must be in writing; AND • Lease must contain the terms and conditions under which all or a portion of the deposit may be withheld by L; AND • Checklist or statement describing the condition and cleanliness of the premises and furnishings is provided to T by L at the commencement of the tenancy—T and L must sign and date checklist
  13. RCW 59.18.260 13 Landlord Duties: Deposits/Fees • Security Deposit—Withholding SD:

    – CANNOT withhold any deposit for normal wear and tear – CANNOT withhold/collect any deposit if you did not comply with checklist requirements (see above)—L liable to T (in the amount of the deposit) if L collects a deposit without providing a checklist (and prevailing party can recover court costs and reasonable attorney fees)
  14. RCW 59.18.270 14 Landlord Duties: Deposits/Fees • Security Deposit—Maintaining SD:

    – SD should promptly be placed in a trust fund account for L maintained by L in a financial institution (bank, credit union, etc.) for that purpose – L entitled to interest, unless otherwise agreed in writing – L should give T a receipt for the deposit and written notice of the name and address of the institution (including any updates or changes in location)
  15. RCW 59.18.280 15 Landlord Duties: Deposits/Fees • Security Deposit—Return of

    Security Deposit: – Within 14 days of termination of lease and vacation of premises (or abandonment of premises) L must give full and specific statement of the basis for retaining any of the deposit + payment of any refund due the T – Satisfied if mailed within 14 days to T at T’s last known address – If L does not comply, L liable to T for full amount of deposit—Court may award T up to 2x the amount of deposit for L’s intentional refusal (and prevailing party will be awarded legal costs and attorney fees)
  16. RCW 59.18.285 16 Landlord Duties: Deposits/Fees • Nonrefundable Fees: –

    Nonrefundable fees paid to L may not be designated as a deposit or part of a deposit – If any money paid to L is a nonrefundable fee, the lease must be in writing and must clearly specify that the fee is nonrefundable • If no written agreement provided, L liable to T for amount of any nonrefundable fees collected • If written agreement fails to specify that fee is nonrefundable, fee is treated as refundable deposit
  17. RCW 59.18.060 17 Landlord Duties: General • Maintain Property: –

    Maintain the property to substantially comply with applicable codes, statues, ordinances – Maintain structural components (roofs, floors, walls, chimneys, foundations, etc. in reasonably good repair (to be usable) – Keep common areas reasonably clean, sanitary, and safe from defects (increasing hazards of risk or accident)
  18. RCW 59.18.060 18 Landlord Duties: General • Maintain Property (continued):

    – Provide reasonable program for control of infestation (insects, rodents, pests, etc) • Exceptions – single-family residence (during tenancy) – Tenant caused
  19. RCW 59.18.060 19 Landlord Duties: General • Maintain Property (continued):

    – Put/keep premises in as good condition as by law or rental agreement it should have been at beginning of tenancy (exception: normal wear and tear) – Provide adequate locks and provide keys to T – Maintain electrical, plumbing, and heating facilities (and appliances provided by L) in good working order
  20. RCW 59.18.060 20 Landlord Duties: General • Maintain Property (continued):

    – Provide facilities adequate to supply heat and water as reasonably required by tenant – Maintain dwelling in reasonably weathertight condition – Provide receptacles in common areas for garbage (except single-family residence)
  21. RCW 59.18.060 21 Landlord Duties: General • Written Notice Owed

    by L to T: – Fire safety and protection information • Provided at time lease is signed – Health hazards associated with indoor mold • Provide individually to each tenant OR post – Name and address of the L • Statement on the lease OR posted notice • T must receive notice of any changes
  22. RCW 59.18.070 22 Landlord Duties: Breach • Notice: – If

    L fails to fulfill duties (statute or lease), T may provide written notice to L – Notice must state: • Premises involved • Name of the owner • Nature of the defective condition
  23. RCW 59.18.070 23 Landlord Duties: Breach • L Response to

    Notice: – Begin remedial action as soon as possible: • ≤ 24 Hours: T deprived of hot or cold water, heat, or electricity (or condition is otherwise imminently hazardous to life) • ≤ 72 hours: T deprived of use of refrigerator, range and oven, or a major plumbing fixture (supplied by L) • ≤ 10 days: all other cases – Exceptions: circumstances beyond L’s control
  24. RCW 59.18.090 24 Landlord Duties: Breach • T’s Remedies if

    Inadequate L Response to Written Notice: – Terminate the Rental Agreement (no further obligation; pro-rata return of unpaid rent) – Bring court action – Pursue other remedies listed in RLTA
  25. RCW 59.18.100 25 Landlord Duties: Breach • Other Remedies (Following

    Notice): – T provides L with good faith repair estimate, professional repairs, and T deducts value from rent if untimely response from L • Cannot exceed value of two month’s rent – T repairs & deducts costs from rent • Cannot exceed value of one month’s rent – BEWARE of damaging L’s property! • Agreement between T & L for T Repair OK
  26. RCW 59.18.110 26 Landlord Duties: Breach • Other Remedies (Continued):

    – Diminished Rental Value: • If court determines that L failed to carry out duties in a timely fashion, and reasonable amount of time has passed, court may determine that the rental value has diminished and award a judgment against L for any rent T has paid in excess of that value
  27. RCW 59.18.115; 59.18.120 27 Landlord Duties: Breach • Other Remedies

    (Continued): – Substandard and Dangerous Conditions: • No response to written notice • T requests inspection by government inspector • Inspector certifies dangerous condition • Tenant begins to place rent in escrow account and continues to do so until condition remedies • Court may terminate tenancy • Prevailing party in court action wins legal costs and attorney fees
  28. RCW 59.18.080 28 Landlord Duties: Breach • Condition** to T’s

    Remedies: – T must be current in payment of rent, including all utilities T agreed to pay in lease
  29. RCW 59.18.130 29 Tenant Duties: General • Tenant Must: –

    Pay the rent! – Keep place clean! – Dispose of garbage – Properly use electrical, gas, heating, plumbing and other fixtures – Not intentionally / negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair, remove, etc. any part of the dwelling
  30. RCW 59.18.130 30 Tenant Duties: General • Tenant Must (Continued):

    – Maintain smoke detective devices – NOT engage in drug-related activity on premises (or allow others to engage in such activity) – Not engage in any activity on the premises that: is imminently hazardous to others; entails physical assaults upon others; or entails unlawful use of a firearm
  31. RCW 59.18.130 31 Tenant Duties: General • Tenant Must (Continued):

    – Not engage in any gang-related activity on the premises, or allow others to do so – Upon termination, restore the premises to its initial condition (except for normal wear and tear)
  32. 32 Tenant Duties: Breach?

  33. RCW 59.18.170 33 Tenant Duties: Breach • Notice: – If

    T fails to fulfill duties, L may provide written notice to T – Notice must state the specific nature of the failure
  34. RCW 59.12.140 34 Tenant Duties: Breach • Notice—How Served: –

    Deliver copy to T (1 copy for each T) personally; OR – If T is absent from the premises, leaving a copy, with some person of suitable age and discretion, and sending a copy through the mail addressed to the T at T’s residence; OR – If a person of suitable age and discretion cannot be found, by affixing a copy of the notice in a conspicuous place at the premises, and also sending a copy through the mail addressed to the tenant at the premises
  35. RCW 59.12.130 35 Tenant Duties: Breach • Waiting Period Following

    Notice: – Pay or vacate notice: 3 days – Failure to comply with conditions of lease: 10 days – Other scenarios: other timelines may apply
  36. RCW 59.18.160, 290, 300 36 Tenant Duties: Breach • Notice

    (continued): – If tenant fails to remedy condition within required time: • Bring an action in appropriate court • Pursue other remedies available under RLTA – L must NOT: • Remove or exclude T from residence without proper Court order • Intentionally cause termination of T’s utility services
  37. 37 Tenant Duties: Breach What Comes after the Notice? What

    Steps Do You Have to Take to Evict a Non-paying or Rule-Breaking Tenant? To Be Continued . . . Upcoming Seminar Topic: Tenant Eviction Process
  38. 38 Jared N. Hawkins 2225 Isaacs Ave, Suite A (509)

    529-5175 jared@virtualinhouse.biz virtualinhouse.biz
  39. Handout • State of WA Landlord Tenant Act – Sections:

    • 59.18.060 • 59.18.070 • 59.18.100 • 59.18.130 • 59.18.253 • 59.18.257 (including template adverse notice) • 59.18.260 • 59.18.270 • 59.18.280 • Link to the entire State of WA Landlord Tenant Act: – http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=59.18 39