The Washington lease agreement is a contract between the landlord and the tenant. It is legally binding and spells out their rights and responsibilities during the lease.
The two central figures are the landlord, the owner of the property, and the tenant, the person who wants to rent that property.
The landlord has an obligation to allow the tenant to use the leased property while the tenant pays the rent to the landlord in the amount and terms defined by the lease agreement.
Before both parties sign the lease agreement, the landlord will review the tenant's rental application to learn about their background, economic standing, and, eventually, criminal record. This way, the landlord can see whether the prospective tenant is suitable.
Washington Lease Agreement Required Disclosures
Let's see what disclosures are required under federal and Washington state law:
Fire protection disclosure. The landlord must give the tenant a written notice informing them about fire safety and whether the apartment has a smoke detector. (RCW 59.18.060)
Landlord or agent disclosure. The landlord must include their information or the contact information of a person authorized to act on his behalf in the lease agreement. If the landlord is not a Washington State resident, they must designate an agent to whom the tenant will send notifications. (RCW 59.18.060)
Lead-based paint disclosure. For every building built before 1978, the landlord is obliged to provide information to the tenant if lead-based paint is used or exists on that property.
Mold disclosure. The landlord must inform the tenant if there’s a risk of mold at the property that has been approved by the Department of Health. (RCW 59.18.060)
Move-in Checklist. When the security deposit is defined, the landlord must provide a move-in checklist containing information about the condition of the property at the beginning of the lease. If the landlord fails to do so, they will be liable to the tenant for the amount of the deposit. (RCW 59.18.260)
Non-refundable fee disclosure. Any non-refundable fee paid by the tenant to the landlord must be specified precisely. (RCW 59.18.285)
Security deposit receipt. When the landlord receives the money for the deposit, they will issue a receipt to the tenant. It must include information about the institution and the account where the deposit is located, as well as other details about the tenant's rights regarding the deposit. (RCW 59.18.270)
Information packets (Seattle only). The landlord is obliged to provide the tenant with a package containing ordinances on housing and building maintenance, the conversion of residential units and mobile homes, and information on voter registration and updating voter lists. (SMC 7.24.080)
Washington Lease Agreement Optional Disclosures
Although not mandatory, the following disclosures may further specify the rights and obligations of the contracting parties:
Asbestos disclosure. The landlord is required by law to inform the tenant if there’s a presence of asbestos at the property. This applies to houses built before 1981.
Bed bug disclosure. To protect the tenant from renting infested property, the landlord will notify the tenant if the leased property has a bed bug infestation and what the suppression procedure is.
Smoking and pet disclosure. It is best for the landlord to inform the tenant if smoking or keeping pets is prohibited on the leased property, so there are no misunderstandings.
Consequences of Non-Disclosure
The disclosures described above are about the tenant's health and safety as well as the security of the property.
That is why it is essential that landlords understand their importance and notify tenants about it. Otherwise, if the tenant suffers damages, the landlord may face legal action, which may result in fines and criminal penalties.
Also, if the landlord doesn’t include the lead-based paint disclosure in the lease agreement, they can be fined up to $19,507. (24 CFR § 30.65)
Washington Lease Agreement Security Deposits
Security Deposit Maximum
Since there is no maximum security deposit amount mandated by Washington state law, the landlord is free to request any amount from the tenant.
Keep in mind that Local Governments may set their own laws about the maximum amount of the security deposit, so it’s a good idea to double-check this before signing a lease.
However, the landlord must specify the terms of the security deposit in the lease agreement and provide a receipt for the security deposit.
Security Deposit Return
The landlord has 21 days to return the security deposit, starting either from the day the contract ends and the tenant moves out or from the day the landlord finds out that the tenant has moved out. (RCW 59.18.280)
If the landlord deducted anything from the security deposit, they must deliver a written statement detailing the exact deductions to tenant’s last known address within the same timeframe.
When is Rent Due in Washington? (Grace Period)
The grace period in Washington is five days. Therefore, if the rent is paid within 5 days of the day noted in the contract as the due date, the landlord can’t charge a late payment penalty. (RCW 59.18.170)
Washington Rent Late Fees
Washington law allows landlords to charge a late fee of up to $20, or 20% of the rent due, whichever is higher. (RCW 19.150.150)
Washington NSF Checks
There is a fee for using a dishonored check that couldn't be paid within 15 days and for which a notice was sent to the check's issuer at the last known address.
In that case, the check's issuer will be required to pay 12% interest per year from the date of dishonor (the date it was not accepted or paid), plus a fee of up to $40 or the face value of the check, whichever is less. (RCW 62A.3-515(a))
Washington Landlord’s Right to Enter
The landlord is required to give the tenant written notice two days before the intended entry into the rented unit, specifying the date and time of entry.
However, if the landlord informs the tenant the day before they plan to enter the apartment, the tenant can’t unfairly refuse to let the landlord in. (RCW 59.18.150(6))
Washington Lease Agreement FAQ
Yes, the lease agreement in the state of Washington is legally binding. This applies to both verbal and written lease agreements.
When you are creating your own lease agreement, consider putting the following terms in the contract:
Personal data about the parties
Location and identification of the leased property
The length of time you rent the property
The rent, due date, and payment method
The amount of the security deposit
A fee for late rent payments
Utilities provided by the landlord
Signatures and date of the lease agreement
The templates for the rental contract are available on our website.
Whether you intend to use it for residential or business purposes, or you are looking for a roommate agreement or maybe a sublease, just select the one that best suits your needs.
When you complete your lease agreement, keep the following in mind before you move in:
Check that you have completed all the fields in agreement.
Make a copy for each party.
Notarize your contract.
Check your property to determine if it has everything you agreed on.
Notify the property owner of any issues you discover.
Make the rent payment.
Make the security deposit payment and request a receipt.