Tenancies in Washington State

Posted by Keon Knutson on Tuesday, December 18, 2012 Under: Unlawful Detainers

What type of tenancies are covered under the RLTA?

There are three basic types of tenancies. 1. A periodic tenancy, or month to month tenancy, is when property is rented for an indefinite period of time with rent payable on a monthly or other periodic basis. 58.18.200 2. Tenancy for Specified Time refers to the rental of property for a specified time, such as signing a year lease. 3. Tenancy at will refers to tenants who occupy residential property for an indefinite period of time without being obligated to pay any rent. Theses tenancies are not covered by the RLTA. Najewitz v. City of Seattle 21 Wn2d 656, 152 P.2d 722 (1944)

What living situations are not covered by the RLTA?

Some living arrangements which appear to be tenancies are excluded from coverage under the RLTA. These include: 1. Institutional living arrangements. 2 Residents under purchase and sale agreements 3. Residents in hotels or motels 4. Property rented for agricultural purposes. 5. Seasonal farmworkers and other employees whose dwelling unit is conditioned upon employment. RCW 59.18.040. Sunrise Group Homes v. Ferguson, 55 Wn. App. 285, 777, p.2d. 553 (1989

How is a rental agreement created?

Rental agreements can be oral or written. Month to month tenancies can be created by nothing more than acceptance of rent. If a deposit is collected, the rental agreement must be in writing. Leases for over one year must be in writing and acknowledged like a deed. Leases that are not in writing or that exceed one year usually create a month to month tenancy RCW 59.18.210; RCW 59.04.010. RCW 64.04.010-020. RCW 59.18.260 A Any provision in a rental agreement that waives a tenant's rights and remedies under the RTLA is unenforceable. A rental agreement may not require a tenant to pay the landlord's attorney fees, except as specifically authorized by statute. RCW 59.18.230.

What are the laws regarding rent?

State law does not restrict the amount of rent that a landlord may charge and prohibits counties from regulating the amount of rent that a landlord may charge. A landlord must provide a written receipt to the tenant for any rent payments upon request. RCW 35.21.830; RCW 36.01.130 59.18.063 RCW 59.18.390 Rent cannot be increased during the term of a lease (tenancy for a specified time), unless the tenant agrees to the increase. However, The landlord may increase the rent of a month-to-month tenant by giving 30 day written notice of such increase RCW. 59.18.140

What are the duties of a tenant?

Tenant has the following duties to: 1. Pay rent on time. 2. Comply with state and local laws. 3. Keep the premises clean 4. Dispose of garbage and waste 5. Properly use all electrical, gas, heating, plumbing and appliances 6 Not intentionally or negligently damage the premises. 7. Not permit a nuisance or waste 8. Not engage in drug related activity on the premises. RCW7.43 7.48 7.48a 9. Maintain smoke detection devices RCW 48.48.140(3) 10 . Not engage in physical assault with deadly weapons RCW 7.48.155 11. Not engage in gang related activity on the premises. 12. Restore the premises to good condition except for reasonable wear and tear. RCW 59.18.130

What is a Tenant 's liability for failing to pay rent?

A Month to month tenant who defaults in the payment of rent and abandons the premises is liable for rent for the 30 days following the earlier of either: 1) The date the landlord learns of the abandonment or 2) the date the next regular rental payment would had become. RCW 59.18.310 When the tenancy is for a specified time (lease) the tenant is liable for the lesser of: 1) the entire rent due for the remainder of the term or 2) all rent accrued during the period reasonably necessary to re-rent the premises at a fair rental price plus the differences between such fair rental and the rent agreed to in the rental agreement Note: The Landlord must make reasonable effort to mitigate any damages that results from a default in rent and abandonment. RCW 59.18.310

How is a tenancy terminated?

A Month-to-month tenancy is terminated by 20 days written notice before the end of a monthly rental period. A Condominium conversion requires 120 day notice. 59.08.200. A tenancy for a specified time is terminated at the end of the specified time. 59.18.220A A Tenancy may also be terminated as a result of an eviction for non payment of rent, nuisance, failure to comply with lease, or illegal conduct.

Additional Resources

Residential Landlord Tenant Act 

Local jurisdictions have their own codes and regulations, some of which provide more protections for tenants. In Seattle, the applicable Laws are Seattle Municipal Code SMC 7.24 and SMC 22.206

In : Unlawful Detainers 

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