Landlord-Tenant Issues

This information has been taken from the booklet, "Landlord-Tenant Law" published by the state of Washington Attorney General's office. For more information, call (800) 692-5082

Month-to-Month Rental Agreement


Illegal Provisions in Rental Agreements

Some provisions which may appear in rental agreements or leases are not legal and cannot be enforced under the law. These include:

Deposits & Other Fees

When a new tenant moves in, the landlord often collects money to cover such things as cleaning or damage. The money collected may be refundable or nonrefundable.

Refundable Deposits

Under the Landlord-Tenant Act, the term "deposit" can only be applied to money which can be refunded to the tenant. If a refundable deposit is being charged, the law requires:

Nonrefundable Fees

These will not be returned to the tenant under any circumstances. If a nonrefundable fee is being charged, the rental agreement must be in writing and must state that the fee will not be returned. A nonrefundable fee cannot legally be called a "deposit."

When The Property Is Sold

The sale of the property does not automatically end a lease or month-to-month rental agreement. When a property is sold, tenants must be notified of the new owner's name and address, either by certified mail, or by a revised posting on the premises.

All deposits paid to the original owner must be transferred to the new owner, who must put them in a trust or escrow account. The new owner must promptly nitify tenants where the deposits are being held.

Landlord's Access To Units

The landlord must give the tenant at least a two-day notice of his intent to enter at reasonable times. However, the law says that tenants must not unreasonably refuse to allow the landlord to enter the unit where the landlord has given at lease one-day's notice of intent to enter at a specified time to show the dwelling to prospective or actual purchasers or tenants.

Proper Notice To Move Out (Leases)

Proper Notice To Move Out (Month-to-month rental agreements)

Return of Deposits

After a tenant moves out, a landlord has 14 days in which to either return deposits, or give the tenant a weritten statement of why all or part of the money is being kept.

Under the law, the rental unit must be restored to the same condition as when the tenant moved in, except for normal wear and tear. Deposits cannot be used to cover normal wear and tear; or damage that existed when the tenant moved in. Under the law, a damage checklist should have been filled out when the tenant moved in.


There are four types of evictions under the law, each requiring a certain type of notice: