It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re sitting down to sign a lease. There’s a lot of legal-speak, fine-print, and fines, and some leases can have illegal provisions in them. But not to worry! While renting your own place is a serious responsibility, you are not without protection. Most tenants in Washington State are protected (and regulated) by RCW 59.018, the Washington State Residential Landlord-Tenant Act. We’ve also summarized a lot of information about leases and other rental agreements below:
- Require the tenant to stay for a specific amount of time (usually one year).
- Restrict the property owner’s ability to change the terms of the rental agreement.
- Sets guidelines for the tenant to follow.
- Tenancy is terminated on final date of term.
Month-to-Month Rental Agreements
- For an indefinite period of time.
- Rent is payable on a monthly basis.
- Property owner or tenant have to give at least 20-days’ notice before the end of the rental period to end the agreement and move.
- Rent can be raised at any time.
It's important to remember that just because it’s in a lease, does not mean it’s legal! Most property owners are not out to take advantage of their tenants, but some may inadvertently include illegal provisions in their leases out of ignorance of the law. Make sure your lease doesn’t contain any provisions that:
- Waive your rights as set forth by the Landlord-Tenant Act.
- Waive your right to defend yourself in court against a property owner’s accusations.
- Limit your property owner’s liability in situations where s/he would normally be responsible.
- Allow your property owner to enter your rental without proper notice.
- Require you to pay for all damage to your rental, even if you didn’t cause it.
- Require you to pay your property owner’s attorney fees under any circumstances if a dispute goes to court.
- Allow your property owner to seize your property if you fall behind in rent.