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To read the specific laws in the WA State Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, click on the RCW (Revised Code of Washington) links throughout the Tenant Services website.
Tenants Union Tenant Counselors are not attorneys, and this information should not be considered legal advice. Please read our full Tenant Union Disclaimer.
Researching Your Landlord
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.
RCW 59.18.030 offers a definition for the landlord of your building. The definition of landlord includes anyone designated as a representative of the owner, lessor, or sublessor, including but not limited to an agent, resident manager or property manager. The owner of your property is considered to be the person, people, or corporation named on the property title. Many owners hire property management companies to handle the daily business of running the rentals. Anyone designated by the landlord to be acting as their agent can also be considered a landlord, and is also responsible for following all the obligations set out in the law. Thus, more than one person may be considered your landlord.
Generally rental agreements will lay out specifically who to go to with concerns and repair requests and how to reach them. It is still very important for tenants to have the means to communicate directly with the owner of a property regarding their concerns and questions. Management companies work for the property owner, who may be largely uninvolved, but still has ultimate decision-making authority over the property. It’s a good idea to send copies of your communications to both the property manager and the owner directly.