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Rental laws are challenging no matter which city you live in. In this case, let’s take a look at Seattle’s rental laws.

Because Seattle, Washington’s population has been booming recently, rental laws and procedures can sometimes be overlooked. The July 2017 Zumper National Rental Report lists Seattle as the eighth most expensive rental market in the United States, joining San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles and Oakland as the west coast representatives of the 10 most expensive cities for renters in the country.

Top 10 – 1 Bed Median Rent Prices – July 2017

1. San Francisco, CA – $3,450

2. New York, NY – $2,950

3. San Jose, CA – $2,390

4. Washington, DC – $2,210

5. Boston, MA – $2,200

6. Los Angeles, CA – $2,100

6. Oakland, CA – $2,100

8. Seattle, WA – $1,910

9. Miami, FL – $1,800

9. Honolulu, HI – $1,800


This comes as Seattle is in the midst of the most significant construction boom in its history. Take a look at more economic factors contributing to Seattle’s booming real estate market on our blog.

 These are four rental laws that are exclusive to Seattle and often overlooked:

1. Landlord-to-Tenant Disclosures

Washington requires landlords to disclose the following to tenants:

  1. Fire protection. When the lease is signed, the landlord must provide fire protection, a safety plan, info around the building’s smoking policy, or an evacuation plan. (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §59.18.060)
  2. Owner or agent identity. The landlord must designate to the tenant the name and address of the person who is the landlord by a statement on the rental agreement or by a notice conspicuously posted on the premises in a rental doc or a notice on the premises. If the person designated does not reside in Washington, landlord must also designate a person who resides in the county to act as an agent for the purposes of service of notices and process. (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 59.18.060)
  3. Mold. When the lease is signed, the landlord must provide the tenant with information provided or approved by the department of health about the health hazards associated with exposure to indoor mold. (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §59.18.060)
  4. Screening criteria. Before obtaining any information about an applicant, the landlord must provide (in writing or by posting) the type of information to be accessed, criteria to be used to evaluate the application, and (for consumer reports) the name and address of the consumer reporting agency to be used, including the applicant’s rights to obtain a free copy of the report and dispute its accuracy. (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §59.18.257.)
  5. Tenant screening fee. Landlords who do their own screening may charge a fee for time and costs to obtain background information, but only if they provide the information explained in “Screening Criteria,” above. (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §59.18.257.)
  6. Nonrefundable fees. If the landlord collects a nonrefundable fee, the rental document must clearly specify that it is nonrefundable. (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §â

2. Security Deposits

Landlords must return the tenant’s security deposit within 21 days of the move-out date, otherwise the former tenant is authorized to take up in small claims court. There are no limits on the specific security deposit amount a landlord can ask for.

Specific required disclosures need to be clearly written out on the lease agreement.

Learn more about the security deposit mistakes landlords should avoid on our real estate blog.

3. First Come First Tenant Placement

Those who are genuinely interested in the property first, receive the first option to rent out the home. This is called the first-come, first-serve practice and prioritizes the earliest applications first.

Be sure to collect the date and times of each application to follow this principle.

4. Landlords Access to Rental Property

Landlords in Seattle are required to serve a two-day notice to the tenant if they intend on entering. If the landlord intends to show the property to a new prospective renter, they only require one day.


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