29 May 2019 Seattle Rent Laws – Information for Tenants
If you’ve decided to move to Seattle to rent a house, there is no shortage of neighborhoods to choose from. The law requires owners of residential rental property to provide tenants with regulations on an annual basis. While the relationship between the landlord and tenants can be great, there could be some loopholes and grey areas. Here is some general information on rent laws in Seattle.
Increase in housing cost on units with major code violations
The law allows landlords to increase the rent after performing the necessary repairs. Once you rent a house, the first thing to look at is the condition. If there are any repairs needed, you must notify the landlord in writing and contact the Department of Construction and Inspection (DCI). The house will be inspected by the DCI to determine whether there’re major code violations. If the landlord plans to increase rent, he must perform the necessary repairs before it comes into effect. For instance, if the repairs are done on the 15th day of the month, the tenant will only pay half the rent increase.
On the other hand, if the owner decides to discontinue using the unit after a notice of violation the law requires that he pays relocation assistance fee to the tenant. This is an equal amount to two months’ rent. Note: the tenant is responsible for the damages he or she causes. In the City of Seattle, the house owner must give tenants 30 days notice on their intention to increase rent. It should be less than 10% and must apply at the start of the rental period (beginning of a new month).
Termination of tenancy contract
A property owner cannot evict a tenant if the property is not registered by the city of Seattle. Besides that, landlords must have a good reason to terminate a month-to-month tenancy. They are required by law to state the reason in writing. For example, if the owner desires to sell the property he must give the tenant 90 days notice in writing. However, he can ask you to vacate the premises within three days under the following circumstances:
- Engaging in unlawful business within the premise like drug-related activity
- Causing a nuisance in the premises or adjacent buildings
- Engaging in criminal activity that affects the safety of other tenants
The property owner must have evidence supporting the allegations and then send a copy to the Property Owner Tenant Assistance Unit. If the owner fails to give a reason for terminating the tenancy, it is possible to take legal action and redeem applicable legal fees.
It includes the cost of criminal background check, tenant screening report, and credit report. According to tenancy law, it should not exceed 10 percent of first month’s rent. The landlords are prohibited from charging any other fee other than move-in fee and security deposit at the beginning of a tenancy.
Depending on the neighborhood you move in, you can get a better deal. Timing is key, so you have to play your cards well.
Please note, the above regulations are liable to change, the information is informative and should serve as an orientation guide only. There are many more laws to be considered, for more in-depth information, please consult with local authorities and seek out professional legal counsel if needed.