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Know your legal obligations as a landlord

Landlords in Washington have significant legal obligations to their tenants. Understanding these obligations can protect your real estate investments, reduce friction with tenants and prevent unnecessary litigation.

You have legal obligations to your tenants

Real estate and landlord/tenant law governs your relationship with your tenants. One aspect that relationship is the security deposit.

The purpose of a security deposit is to cover the financial gap in case a tenant fails to pay rent. It also covers damage to the building as well as other breaches of the rental agreement or lease. There are rules regarding how this deposit is to be collected, managed, and returned.

Security deposits can be an area of contention for many landlords and tenants, so it is critical that you understand your obligations and manage the deposit appropriately. If you withhold any portion of the security deposit, the tenant may take you to court. If this happens, be prepared to support your actions through documentation of damage to the unit or building or the tenant’s failure to pay rent.

Ownership of the property must be disclosed

After you obtain this deposit, you must also disclose information regarding the owner of the property to the tenant. This must include the names and addresses of everyone who is empowered to manage the building, collect rent, make repairs, respond to complaints, and issue notices of any kind.

You are also the one who is responsible for delivering the property in a safe condition to the tenant. This must be done as soon as the tenant has signed the lease. The unit must be made ready for them to move into on the date that has been agreed upon in advance via the terms of your agreement.

Further Reading

Beware of these rookie landlord fumbles in Washington

Many people see real estate investing as a way to generate passive income. Being a landlord can be hard work, however, and a bad tenant can cost you tens of thousands of dollars. If you are a new landlord, you must screen tenants carefully and understand that rental markets fluctuate, which can make it difficult […]

Eviction: Definition and how it works under the law

Eviction is the legal process by which a landlord removes a tenant from a rental property. Whether in Washington or elsewhere, this process is governed by state and local laws, which vary by jurisdiction. Eviction process There are several reasons why a landlord may seek to evict a tenant, including nonpayment of rent, violation of […]
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