A Seattle lease agreement is a contract that addresses the legalities of a landlord-tenant relationship. It states the rent a tenant must pay a landlord to reside on their property and outlines each party’s rights and responsibilities. Both parties can reference this document for guidelines on subletting, modifying the lease, and other situations they may encounter.
Seattle Lease Requirements
Seattle landlords abide by Washington state’s Chapter 59.18 RCW (Residential Landlord-Tenant Act). However, Seattle has city-specific guidelines for leases, some of which include the following:
Rent Increase Notices
All leases should disclose that landlords must issue at least 180 days’ notice before increasing rent (Seattle Municipal Code Sec. 7.24.030.A).
Landlords who intend not to renew a tenant’s lease and don’t have just cause should issue between 60 and 90 days’ notice.
Tenants in Seattle can add roommates if the new occupants don’t exceed the unit’s occupancy maximum. New roommates can include family and non-family members (Seattle Municipal Code Sec. 7.24.030.I).
Domestic-Violence Related Property Damage
A landlord can’t make a victim pay for property damage that a perpetrator of domestic violence causes (Seattle Municipal Code Sec. 7.24.030.H).
Landlords should issue a parking agreement that’s distinct from the lease. They must include any associated fees or additional guidelines for tenants to follow (Seattle Municipal Code Sec. 7.24.030.G).
Landlords must specify the amount and expected payment plan for any pet deposit they charge. They should let the tenant pay the pet deposit in three equal partial payments (Seattle Municipal Code Sec. 7.24.030.F).
Security Deposits and Move-In Fees
Landlords can’t charge security deposit fees or any other non-refundable move-in fees unless they explicitly state them in a written rental agreement (Seattle Municipal Code Sec. 7.24.030.C).
Landlords can’t demand tenants to stay for more than one month when tenants enter a month-to-month lease. They also can’t charge fees or penalties if the tenant leaves the property early but lawfully terminates their lease agreement (Seattle Municipal Code Sec. 7.24.030.B).
All landlords must provide a copy of the Seattle Renter’s Handbook, containing voter registration information and essential tenant details.
Landlord-Tenant Rights and Regulations in Seattle
Here are some Seattle-specific landlord-tenant rights and regulations:
Security deposits can’t cost more than one month’s rent, and non-refundable fees can’t cost more than 10% of one month’s rent. Furthermore, fees for late rent payments can’t be more than $10 per month (Seattle Municipal Code Sec. 7.24.034 and Seattle Municipal Code Sec. 7.24.035).
Seattle abides by federal and state laws for fair housing, but the city bans all Preferred Employer Programs that offer perks like free parking and discounted rent to tenants who work for specific companies.
Seattle also prevents landlords from discriminating against tenants who use alternative income sources to pay for rent.
Seattle bans landlords from retaliating against tenants, whether in the form of abusing entry rights, raising rent unfairly, or refusing necessary maintenance.
Seattle landlords can’t evict tenants without just cause. They can initiate no-fault or at-fault evictions:
- No-fault evictions: No-fault evictions occur when the tenant hasn’t done anything to cause the eviction. For example, the landlord may want to take the unit off the market or have a family member move into it.
- At-fault evictions: At-fault evictions occur when the tenant has prompted the eviction. For example, landlords may initiate evictions against tenants who conduct illegal activity on the property, don’t pay rent on time, or refuse entry to the landlord.
Private Right of Action
Suppose the property owner ends a lease agreement due to one of the following reasons:
- Planned substantial rehabilitation
- The owner moves into the property
- The sale of a single-family residence
If the owner doesn’t complete the eviction for the stated reason, the tenant can sue them for up to $3,000 and associated fees (Seattle Municipal Code Sec. 7.24.060).