A lawsuit filed by the Rental Housing Association against capping move-in fees in Seattle is just the latest to cause friction between tenant rights and landlord rights. No matter which side of the law you fall on regarding the new requirement that landlords must offer installment plans to allow tenants to pay deposits and other fees, both renters and landlords have rights. Understanding what you can and cannot do, whether you’re renting your abode or leasing it to someone, starts knowing and protecting your rights.
Resources For Landlords
Becoming a landlord, whether you have a single rental unit or several buildings of units, requires knowing the laws in the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act. A simplified version is also provided as a free download by the Washington State Bar Association.
If your rentals are located in Seattle, you must also become familiar with the codes outlined by the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections. (SDCI). Local building ordinances may also apply, so check with the city in which the rental is located.
While tenants have rights, they are also expected to fulfill certain obligations. Get more information by downloading the free Code Compliance Guidelines provided by the SDCI. This document also outlines the records a property owner should keep to support a termination of a tenant. You’ll also get a list of groups that can provide information to rental property owners.
You may want to consider joining the Rental Housing Association. According to a recent KOMO News article, this organization represents 5,400 rental housing landlords across Washington state. Of those members, 4,000 own units in Seattle with 88 percent owning less than four rental units.
If you need to evict a tenant, we offer a do-it-yourself Eviction Notice, available for purchase by visiting Do It Yourself Legal Kits. If you need to hire an attorney to help you with a tenant problem, see our list of law firms.
Resources For Tenants
Start by reading our blog post about the rights of tenants in Washington state. Washington Law Help also provides low-income individuals with legal problems related to tenant rights. Download their free publication titled Your Rights As a Tenant in Washington State. The Washington State Bar Association also offers a condensed version.
You can also review the Washington State Legislature’s Residential Landlord Tenant Act to read the law on a variety of topics, including:
- how much time your landlord has to remedy problems, such as a lack of water, electricity or heat
- non-refundable fees that are not part of a deposit
- your landlord’s rights to enter the rental
- month-to-month leases
The City of Settle Department of Planning and Development offers a useful guide you can print, complete and give to your building manager to report items needing repair. Click here to view the form.
Download Seattle Laws on Property Owner and Tenant’s Rights and Responsibilities. The last few pages of this document include a list of groups that can help you with tenant rights. For instance, Neighborhood Legal Clinics are mentioned as a resource for a free legal consultation. This organization helps people with civil matters only. Read our blog post for more information about Neighborhood Legal Clinics.
Check out the Tenants Union of Washington, a public service based in Seattle that helps with tenant rights. According to their Facebook page, they help improve tenants’ living conditions and fight unjust housing policies.
If you need to hire an attorney to help you with a landlord problem, see our list of law firms.