Renting in Seattle: 4 Laws You Should Know

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Renting in Seattle: 4 Laws You Should Know

Emily Gojko · Jan 6, 2010

If you are planning on renting in Seattle it is important you be aware of the local landlord tenant laws because you never know when you might need them.

1. Landlords Must Have Just Cause to Terminate Month-to-Month Renters

This law is crucial to know if you are a month-to-month tenant. In many states, as a month-to-month renter, your landlord only has to provide you with notice in order to terminate your tenancy so, often times, you find may find yourself unexpectedly searching for an apartment. In Seattle, however, this is not the case. This law is called the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance, and it states that a landlord in Seattle must have just cause to terminate the tenancy of a month-to-month renter. Those causes are laid out specifically in the ordinance, so anyone renting in Seattle on a month-to-month lease should be sure to check it out in its entirety. The ordinance is easily accessible online. Briefly some of those causes are laid out below:

  • Failure of the tenant to pay rent within 3 days of receipt of a notice to pay rent.
  • The tenant seriously damages the rental unit.
  • The landlord wishes to occupy the premises personally, or have his immediate family occupy the rental unit.
  • The tenant’s residency is conditioned on employment with the landlord, and this employment is terminated.
  • Criminal activity has or is taking place in the rental unit.

2. There Is No Minimum on Month-to-Month Leases

If the apartment or house you rent in Seattle is on month-to-month rental terms, the landlord cannot hold you to a minimum rental term. You can rent that apartment for one month, and then move out. If a landlord in Seattle wants to set a minimum rental term, then there must be a lease agreement in writing.

3. Rent Increases (and Other Cost Increases) Require Specific Notice

If you are renting in Seattle, it is important to be aware of this law. If a landlord is increasing the rent, or any other cost, such as utilities by more than 10 percent in a 12 month time span, that landlord is required to give the tenants 60 days notice in writing. If your landlord doesn’t follow these regulations, and hikes up your rent, you have the right to fight it in the court system.

4. Condominium Conversions Require Notice to Renting Tenants

Sometimes, it is the case that your rental building is being converted to condominiums. If you are renting in Seattle and find yourself in this predicament, it is important to know your rights. You must be given 120 written notice of the condominium conversion. Also important to know is that if you decide that you do not want to purchase your unit, you are eligible to receive up to three months rent to assist you in relocating. The actual amount is based upon your gross income, and the area’s median income. In the event of a cooperative conversion, the same notice requirements hold true, and if you decide not to purchase your unit, you are eligible for $500 for relocation assistance.

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Emily Gojko: I am a writer, marketer, and manager with a strong background in real estate development and management. I am also a native New Yorker with an obsession for home design shows, so I have personal and professional experience making the most of small spaces, and dealing with good and bad living situations.

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