Congratulations, you’re a SEATTLE AREA landlord!

If you are new at being a landlord, there are some basic rules that you need to know to avoid the nightmare stories that everyone hears. Proper screening is essential, and with the right tenants it can be a very positive experience. You should have a copy of the Washington State Landlord –Tenant Laws on hand, and if you don’t, you can download a copy on our website, or at The official Washington State Website; .

THIRD PARTY BILLING ORDINANCE: This ordinance defines rules for landlords who, by themselves or through private companies, bill tenants for City provided utilities (water, sewer, garbage, electric services) separately from their rent.  The ordinance applies to all residential buildings having three or more housing units.


PRIVACY-LANDLORD’S ACCESS TO THE RENTAL: The landlord must give the tenant at least a two day notice of his intent to enter at reasonable times. However, tenants must not unreasonably refuse to allow the landlord to enter the rental where the landlord has given at least one-day’ notice of intent to enter at a specified time to exhibit the dwelling to prospective or actual purchasers or tenants.


DEPOSITS AND OTHER FEES: The tenant must be given a written receipt for each deposit. (Which is on the lease), the tenant must be given a signed copy of the Condition Report Move-In Checklist (this must be done at the TIME of the walk through so bring two copies and carbon paper).


NON-REFUNDABLE FEES: These will not be returned to the tenant under any circumstances.  If a non-refundable fee is being charged, the rental agreement must be in writing and must state that the fee will not be returned.  A non-refundable fee cannot legally be called a deposit.


LANDLORDS RESPONSBILITIES: The landlord must maintain structural components, such as roofs, floors and chimneys, in reasonably good repair. They must maintain the dwelling in reasonably weather tight condition. They must provide garbage cans and arrange for removal of garbage, except in single family dwellings.


TENANT RESPONSIBILITIES: Tenants are responsible for maintaining smoke detectors. They must keep the rental unit clean and sanitary and dispose of garbage properly.


MAKING CHANGES TO LEASES: The sale of the property does not automatically end a tenancy.  When a rental unit is sold, tenants must be notified of the new owner’s name and address, either by certified mail, or by a revised posting on the premises.


HOW TO HANDLE REPAIRS: When something in the rental unit needs to be repaired, the first step is for the tenant to give WRITTEN notice of the problem to the landlord or person who collects the rent.  The notice must include the address and apartment number of the rental; the name of the owner, if known; and a description of the problem.  After giving notice, the tenant must wait the required time for the landlord to begin making repairs.  Those required waiting times are: 24 hours for no hot or cold water, heat or electricity, or for a condition which is imminently hazardous to life; 72 hours for repair of refrigerator, range and oven, or a major plumbing fixture supplied by landlord; 10 days for all other repairs. 

If repairs are not STARTED with the required time and if the tenant is paid up in rent and utilities, the tenant can give written notice to the landlord and move out immediately. Tenants are entitled to a pro-rated refund of their rent, as well as the deposits they would normally get back. If the repair is one that has a 10-day waiting period, the tenant cannot contract to have the work done until 10 days after the landlord receives the estimate, whichever is later.