Landlord / Tenant Problems

This information is provided by the Attorney General's Office to give general information about the state's Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 59.18).

Since this is a lengthy and complicated law that continues to be interpreted by the courts, we recommend contacting an attorney when dealing with your specific landlord-tenant question.

Landlord-Tenant Law

Most tenants who rent a place to live come under the state's Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (PDF). However, certain renters are specifically excluded from the law.

Not Covered

Those who are generally not covered by the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act are:

  • Renters of a space in a mobile home park. They are usually covered by the state's Mobile Home Landlord-Tenant Act (RCW 59.20 ). However, renters of both a space and a mobile home are usually covered by the residential law
  • Residents of a public or private medical, religious, educational, recreational or correctional institutions and licensed nursing homes, monasteries, convents and hospitals
  • Residents of a single-family dwelling rented as part of a lease for agricultural land
  • Residents of hotels, motels, or other transient lodgings
  • Residents of housing provided for seasonal farm work
  • Tenants employed by the landlord who live in the rental unit as a job condition (such as an apartment house manager)
  • Tenants leasing a single family dwelling for one year or more, when their attorney has approved the exemption
  • Tenants using the property for commercial rather than residential purposes.
  • Tenants with an earnest money agreement to purchase the dwelling
  • Tenants with rental agreements with the state of Washington

Rights of All Tenants

Renters not covered by the Landlord-Tenant Act do have these basic rights under other state laws, including:

  • Protection against lockouts and seizure of personal property by the landlord
  • Protection from unlawful discrimination
  • Right to a livable dwelling
  • Right to hold the landlord liable for damage caused by the landlord's negligence