Washington Rental Lease Agreements
The Washington Rental Lease Agreements are legally-binding contracts created with the purpose of ensuring the legality of a residential lease in the state of Washington. To this end, the contracts state the rights and responsibilities that a landlord and tenant respectively carry in relation to matters such as rental payments, disclosures, and access to the rental property.
Landlords of residential properties in Washington should be aware of the various mandatory disclosure they are required to make to tenants. This responsibility should be taken seriously, considering the legal repercussions for failing to make these disclosures.
Types of Agreements
Commercial Lease Agreement – A contract that sets provisions for a landlord to enter into a commercial lease of a property with a business.
Lease to Own Agreement – This document lays the legal foundations for a tenant to purchase a rental property from a landlord.
Month-to-Month Lease Agreement – This contract documents short term leases of residential properties. The lease period lasts only thirty (30) days at a time but is automatically renewed if neither party terminates it.
Roommate Agreement – Sharing a rental household can be fraught by difficulties if roommates are not on the same page about their responsibilities. This agreement addresses this problem by setting out guidelines for all roommates to follow.
Standard Residential Lease Agreement – A contract comprising of landlord-tenant laws which are unique to Washington.
Sublease Agreement – A document that lists all fundamental terms of a sublease, so that an original tenant may lease the property they rent to another tenant.
What is a Washington Lease Agreement?
A Washington Lease Agreement is a legal document that includes all necessary terms for a landlord to rent a property to a tenant in the state of Washington. Given the importance of selecting an optimal tenant, landlords are strongly suggested to use rental application forms during the process of vetting prospective tenants.
State Definition (59.18.030(25)) -“means all agreements which establish or modify the terms, conditions, rules, regulations, or any other provisions concerning the use and occupancy of a dwelling unit.”
When is Rent Due?
Washington state law is silent on the matter of when rent is due. The rental contract should therefore state this clearly to avoid misunderstandings. There is also no state statute on grace periods.
Emergency (§ 59.18.150(5)): State law explicitly states that the landlord has the right to enter the rental dwelling if there is an emergency.
Non-Emergency (§ 59.18.150(6)): If there is a non-emergency related reason the landlord wishes to enter the rental dwelling, they must provide the tenant with at least two (2) days written notice of their intent to enter.
- Fire Protection & Evacuation (§ 59.18.060(12)(a)): Landlords must provide written notice to all tenants that lists fire safety and protection information relevant to the rental property. This notice must include the fact that the rental dwelling is equipped with a smoke detection device, as is required by state law. The written notice must disclose a number of specific matters, as outlined by § 59.18.060(12)(a), except if the rental dwelling is a single-family residence.
- Lead Paint Disclosure: In cases where a landlord of a rental property constructed before 1978 knows of any lead paint hazards in the property, it is their legal duty to inform tenants of these hazards. Landlords are also required to supply tenants with a copy of the pamphlet, Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home.
- Mold Information (§ 59.18.060(13)): Landlords are required to give tenants “information provided or approved by the department of health about the health hazards associated with exposure to indoor mold” either in written format individually to each tenant or posited in a conspicuous public location at the rental property.
- Name and Address (§ 59.18.060(15)): The landlord’s name and address should be identified in a statement on the rental agreement or by a notice conspicuously posted on the premises. If the landlord lives outside Washington state, the name and address of “a person who resides in the county who is authorized to act as an agent for the purposes of service of notices and process” must be given. If no designation is made of such a person, the person the tenant makes rental payments will be deemed an agent in this circumstance.
- Nonrefundable Fees (§ 59.18.285): If the landlord should charge any nonrefundable fees, the rental contract must clearly state that these fees are nonrefundable.
- Security Deposit Information (§ 59.18.270): Landlords are required to deposit any security deposit received by a tenant in a trust account. The landlord must disclose to the tenant with a written receipt of the deposit and must provide written notice of the name and address and location of the depository.
Security Deposit Laws
Maximum – There is no limit for the amount a landlord may demand a tenant must pay to them.
Returning to Tenant (§ 59.18.280) – It is a state law requirement that the landlord must return the security deposit within either twenty one (21) days after the rental agreement terminates and the tenant’s vacation of the premises, or twenty one (21) days after the landlord learns of the tenant’s abandonment of the rental dwelling.