In owning or renting a property in Washington state there are several different property management laws the property owner must keep in mind. These laws are thorough and cover a wide range of topics. This article provides a brief summary of some of the most relevant laws. This information can prove valuable as rules for property management companies to follow.
Property Management Laws-Washington State
Property Management: Disclosures
A disclosure is information that must be provided to tenants.
Fire: after a lease is signed the tenant must be provided with fire protection and related information. Things covered include evacuation planning, the process of how tenants are notified in cases of emergency and any rules related to smoking on property grounds.
Landlord Identification: in Washington state the owner of the property and a related mailing address must be provided to the tenant. If the landlord does not live in the state then a local representative must be identified for the purpose of regular service and related property management processes.
Mold Information: a tenant must be provided with documentation warning about mold. This information can be provided by or be approved by the department of health.
Background Screening: before screening an applicant the person in question must be provided with a copy of the criteria being used, what information is being obtained and contact information for the consumer reporting agency if they wish to contest any reported information or simply want a copy for their records. Also a fee may be charged for screening provided it is noted in writing.
Non Refundable Fees: any nonrefundable fees must be documented as such.
Checklist: a move in checklist must be issued if there is a security deposit. If not the landlord is liable for any security deposit provided by the tenant.
Security Deposit: the value and circumstances for withholding must be provided in writing along with related bank information on where the deposit is stored.
Property Management: Security Deposits
Security deposits are a common issue that is encountered in property management. Washington has several property management laws as it relates to this issue. First, on a state level there is no hard limit on security deposits. However, there may be city or county limits imposed. Second, a security deposit must be refunded within two weeks of the tenant moving out provided it is being returned in full or in part. As noted above any reasons for withholding of the deposit must be given in writing before collecting. Note these rules do not apply to leases of single family dwelling with leases greater than a year or to the landlord’s employees who live on site.
Property Management : When Can A Tenant Withhold Rent?
Another common issue in property management is tenants refusing to pay rent. Under Washington law there are situations where this is acceptable. These are if a repair is needed to make the dwelling habitable (example a leaking roof) or in cases where a tenant paid for a repair and is deducting from rent in order to receive reimbursement. Note that the repair need must meet certain criteria, notice must be given, and there are limits to how much a tenant can withhold. A lease cannot be terminated in retaliation for such actions.
As is apparent there are several legal factors relevant in Washington property management. The key thing is to keep abreast of the laws and lay out exact details of the lease agreement, that follows the laws, in writing.
Son-Rise Property Management is a full service property management company located in Bellingham, WA. Contact us today to see how we can help you find the perfect home to rent or manage your property.