Overview of landlord/tenant laws - Washington State

Here's an overview of what you need to know as a Washington landlord

Knowing the laws that apply to you as a landlord and your tenants is crucial. Please keep in mind that we are not lawyers here at RentalRiff and this post is meant to provide a high-level (30,000 feet) overview of the most important Washington state legal concerns of managing and maintaining your physical property. We’re not going to get into evictions, financial concerns, etc. - this is a post about ongoing maintenance and property-level management.

Here in Washington, there are a few key legal concerns to have top of mind when you think about the state of your property:

First, and probably the most obvious, is the need to maintain a property that is hospitable for human beings (RCW 59.18.060). In a nutshell, this (long) section requires landlords to provide a dwelling that is safe to live in without any major flaws. Roofs, walls, floors, systems, and basically everything, need to work and have structural integrity. The property needs to be “to code” and property maintenance and repairs need to be administered when needed. Again, pretty basic stuff but worth a read to make sure you’re compliant.

The next portion we’ll cover here is one of the more important. When critical elements of your property fail, the landlord is obligated to take action within certain timeframes (RCW 59.18.070). Our best practice here at RentalRiff is to be on top of everything within 24 hours (and communicate about the issue immediately). Here’s a quick overview:

- If the dwelling no longer provides hot or cold water, heat, electricity, or if the property becomes hazardous to live in, the landlord must initiate a remedy within 24 hours of being notified by the tenant.

- If the dwelling no longer provides a working refrigerator, oven, or if a major plumbing fixture stops working, the landlord must initiate a remedy within 72 hours of being notified by the tenant.

- All other defective portions of the property or dwelling must be attended to within 10 days of being notified by the tenant.

If the landlord doesn’t attend to delinquent conditions at the property, the tenant has a couple of ways to take action. They can terminate the lease or take the landlord to court (RCW 59.18.100). Tenants can also take matters into their own hands and initiate repairs and have the costs deducted from the rent (RCW 59.18.100). If you as the landlord are on top of the condition of your rental property, your tenants, and the state of Washington will be much obliged. 

We recommend familiarizing yourself with applicable laws as a landlord - know your rights and the tenants’ rights and responsibilities. Chapter 59.18 RCW has all Landlord-Tenant laws for the state of Washington - it’s a hefty read but if you’re self-managing your property it’s a great resource.

Here at RentalRiff we understand and adhere to these laws when it comes to your property’s maintenance. Please reach out if you’d like to discuss!