Washington lease agreements are contracts that govern a tenant’s lease of a landlord’s property. The agreement will contain key terms like the monthly rent, responsibility for utilities, and whether pets are permitted. Both parties should keep a copy of the lease agreement and refer to it in case of disagreements.
- Washington Lease Agreements: By Type (6)
- Landlord-Tenant Laws
- Handbooks and Guides
- Commercial Lease Agreement
- Month-to-Month Lease Agreement
- Rent-to-Own Lease Agreement
- Roommate Lease Agreement
- Standard Lease Agreement
- Sublease Agreement
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Fire Protection & Evacuation – When the lease begins, the landlord must provide the tenant with information about the fire safety of the dwelling unit, including smoke alarms and, for multi-unit complexes, sprinklers, smoking policy, and more (§ 59.18.060).
Landlord/Agent Identification – A landlord must include, either in the lease agreement or in a writing posted conspicuously on the property, the name and contact information for people who are authorized to receive complaints and to come on to the property to make repairs. If the landlord does not reside in the state of Washington, he or she must designate a representative who does (§ 59.18.060).
Lead-Based Paint Disclosure – For properties with dwelling units built before 1978, federal law requires the landlord disclose the dangers of lead-based paints to the tenant.
Move-in Checklist – If a landlord requires a security deposit for a unit and desires the ability to deduct from it at the end of a tenancy, then the landlord must provide the tenant with a checklist on which the condition of the premises is recorded at the time of move-in, and which is used as a comparison when the tenant moves out. If the landlord does not provide this form, the tenant is automatically entitled to the entire security deposit (§ 59.18.260).
Nonrefundable Fees – If the lease includes any fees that are not refundable, the landlord must clearly state which ones are not (§ 59.18.285).
Security Deposit Receipt – If a landlord collects a security deposit, the landlord must promptly put the deposit in a bank or similar institution, and disclose to the tenant the name and location of the institution. The landlord also must update the tenant if this information changes during the tenancy (§ 59.18.270).
Washington State does not limit how much a landlord may charge a tenant as a security deposit.
Landlords must return a tenant’s security deposit within twenty-one (21) days of the termination of a tenancy. (Any interest that the security deposit accumulated during the tenancy is the property of the landlord unless specified otherwise in the lease agreement.)
If the landlord intends to retain a portion of the deposit, the landlord must provide a written statement explaining the retention, along with funds, if any, leftover, also within twenty-one (21) days. The landlord may comply with this requirement by either personally delivering the notice and funds, or by mailing it to the tenant’s last known address. Failure to meet these deadlines negates any claim by the landlord to the deposit (§59.18.270, §59.18.280).
State law in Washington does not mandate a rent due date or a grace period, meaning that the rent due date may be set in the lease agreement. However, see the section on “Late Rent Penalties” for limitations.
14-Day Notice to Pay or Quit – If a tenant does not pay rent on the date due, then the landlord may give this notice to the tenant or post it on the dwelling unit, informing the tenant of the need to pay the amount owed within fourteen (14) days, or that otherwise the landlord may begin the eviction process and the tenant would need to leave the property (§59.12.030).
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Landlords are permitted to charge fees for rent delivered more than five (5) days after the date on which rent is due according to the lease agreement. If a landlord wishes to charge late fees, the fees should be specified in the rental agreement and must be reasonable.
If a tenant incurs a late fee, the tenant may propose in writing that the date on which rent is due to be moved to a different day of the month, and the landlord shall agree to this change if the proposed date is no more than five days after the date originally named in the rental agreement and the tenant can demonstrate that his or her primary source of income is in the form of monthly government assistance that regularly arrives after the due date set in the rental agreement (§ 59.18.170).
Under Washington’s version of the Uniform Commercial Code, if a landlord receives a dishonored check and does not receive full payment of rent within fifteen (15) days, the landlord may send a notice of dishonor, such as the one described here, to the writer of the check, demanding payment plus fees. The fee may be specified in the rental agreement, but cannot exceed the lesser of $40 or the value of the check (§62A.3.515).
In the event that a tenant abandons a property, the landlord may enter and store any of the tenant’s personal property in a reasonably secure location. Following such an entry, the landlord should make reasonable efforts to inform the tenant, including notifying the tenant in writing of the discovery of the property and the possibility of its sale; this requirement is satisfied by sending a letter to the tenant’s last known address.
The landlord should specify that the property may be sold within forty-five (45) days of sending the letter and that tenants may reclaim the property after paying the storage costs associated with it. If the tenant does not claim the property within forty-five (45) days, the landlord may sell the property and use the proceeds to settle outstanding debts owed by the tenant.
Any additional amount must be held in trust by the landlord for the tenant for one (1) year, at which point it becomes property of the landlord. If the unclaimed property appears to be worth less than $250, the landlord may sell it within seven (7) days of notifying the tenant, with the exception of goods that appear to be personal papers, keepsakes, or family heirlooms (§59.18.310).