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.