Rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants
An overview of the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants can be found in the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (RLTA). The text of the Act is in Chapter 59.18 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW). Washington LawHelp's resource, Your Rights as a Tenant in Washington State, explains residential tenants' and landlords' rights and responsibilities in Washington as described in the RLTA.
Additional material at Washington LawHelp covers many specific issues related to tenants' rights including, What to Do if You Need Repairs, Getting Your Security Deposit Back, Can My Landlord Do That?, and much more.
If tenants and landlords need help working toward a resolution of issues they may have with each other, mediation is available from Community Mediation Services. They provide mediation resources to facilitate dialogue and negotiation between tenants and landlords about any issues, including rent payment plans to help renters maintain housing.
The 2021 legislative session made significant changes to the law. Cases appealed to the State Court of Appeals may also impact eviction. Local ordinances or court orders create additional requirements. Because the situation is fluid, you should verify there is no additional guidance issued. These links highlighting some of the changes have been posted for your convenience.
- Washington LawHelp has written a brief summary of the state's new 2021 landlord/tenant legislation.
- Additional information about some of the changes to the law is available from the law library.
- The State Law Library has a blog post on the status of the law as of August 4.
- Many forms, procedures, and requirements have changed. For example, some information about changes in notice requirements is available from Washington LawHelp. The Attorney General's Office has created a new form for a 14-day notice as well as an unpaid rent repayment plan worksheet.
- The Attorney General’s Office has a Landlord-Tenant page that includes information about SB 5160 (one piece of new state legislation passed in 2021 that includes new rules for evictions and housing related practices after COVID-19) and the new Eviction Resolution Pilot Program (ERPP).
- Washington LawHelp has information about a new state law (House Bill 1236) that went into effect on May 10, 2021. The new law says that landlords must have a "good" or legal reason for not renewing a rental agreement, ending (terminating) a tenancy, or evicting a tenant.
- Landlords face new financial liability if they do not follow all processes and requirements correctly.
Due to the extensive changes to the law, the library does not have an eviction kit available for purchase. Written materials in the library are no longer current. The law library cannot offer materials to read or purchase until the new laws have been clarified and new materials are available. Attorneys determined that a kit is not viable until the law is more stable. That could take a year or more depending on new legislation from the 2022 session, and rulings from the State Court of Appeals.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 564.397.2268 if you wish to be notified if/when an updated eviction kit is for sale.
Tenants need to be aware that in 2021 there have been substantial changes to the law about evictions. One of the changes is that a landlord must give a "good" reason to end a tenancy or not renew a lease.
Tenants can get information and forms at Washington LawHelp. There are forms and instructions for tenants who need to respond to an eviction lawsuit as soon a possible. They also have a page for Facing Eviction? Find legal help and rent assistance which includes an Eviction Defense Helper tool to assist you in figuring out what to do next. There is a page specifically for Eviction Help in Clark County.
Washington LawHelp also has information and forms for specific situations including:
- Eviction and Your Defense
- Going to Your Unlawful Detainer (Eviction) Hearing
- Vacating (Canceling) a Judgment and Staying (Stopping) Enforcement of a Writ after You Defaulted in your Unlawful Detainer (Eviction) Case (if you did not go to court and did not file an answer for a good reason, such as the landlord didn’t serve you with the summons and complaint)
A new law passed in 2021 created a Right to Counsel program for low-income tenants who are facing eviction. This program guarantees free legal representation for anyone receiving certain types of public assistance or who has an annual post-tax income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
Free eBooks about landlord - tenant law
Free eBooks about different topics related to landlord - tenant law are available from Nolo Press -- one of the largest publishers of legal self-help books. This document shows you how to find and view the books.