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Know Your Rights » Resources » Researching Your Landlord

Documenting Communications

The landlord is responsible for the property and has explicit requirements under Washington State law regarding care and maintenance. For a complete listing of the landlord’s duties, see RCW 59.18.060.

It is also essential that you document your communications with your landlord in writing as a tool to protect yourself. All repair requests must be in writing (RCW 59.18.070). Always keep a copy of your communications with your landlord and proof of mailing, and be sure to get copies of all documents that you sign. You can prove that the letter was sent and received by sending it via email, regular first class mail, and certified mail, return receipt requested. Be sure and keep a copy for your own records. You can also hand deliver the letter and ask your landlord to sign and date your copy of the letter. You can also ask a reliable third party to witness your delivery of the notice to the landlord.

Document all agreements between you and your landlord and any commitments your landlord makes to you, especially payment arrangements. All agreements should be signed and dated by both you and your landlord.

Email correspondence is always good to save for documentation purposes, but the Landlord-Tenant Act was largely written prior to the Internet age. The act is not clear as to whether email constitutes proper notice to the landlord, especially if the landlord never responds to an email, making it difficult to prove whether they received the notices or not. The surest way is to write a physical letter described above.

Sometimes landlords will have specific forms that they want you to use, such as a repair request form or work order. It is fine to use those forms. Just make sure that you get copies of the forms before they are turned in. You can ask management to initial or sign and date your copy of the form to prove that it was received.