Mandatory Disclosures – Seattle Tenants

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The fourth is with regard to rent increases for Seattle tenants. The City of Seattle requires that landlords give tenants at least sixty (60) days notice if the landlord intends to increase rents by more than ten percent (10%) within a twelve (12) month period. Seattle landlords are also not allowed to require a month-to-month tenant to stay for more than one rental period paint protection film seattle. Rental provisions that penalize a tenant any such violations are not enforceable.

The third is with regard to deposits. The City of Seattle requires that landlords give tenants a written receipt for each deposit. The term “deposit” can only be used with regard to money that can be refunded. If the money is not going to be refunded, such as a non-refundable “pet” deposit, it should not be called a “deposit.” Call it something else instead, like a “Non-Refundable Pet Service Fee.”. The rental agreement must be in writing and it must state what each deposit is for and what the tenant must do to get the money back. A checklist describing the condition of the unit must be filled out and the tenant must sign it and the tenant must be given a signed copy. The deposits must be kept in a trust account with a bank or escrow company and the tenants must be informed in writing where the deposits are being kept. The landlord, however has no obligation to pay interest to the tenants on the deposits being held.

The fifth is with regard to mold. The Washington State Department of Health has a website listing Frequently Asked Questions about mold. Mold can impact human health. For some, the impact of molds can be significant. Molds may trigger asthma attacks or allergy symptoms (not unlike hay fever). Although mold and the mycotoxins they may produce are still a topic of considerable debate, they should not be tolerated in your investment properties, even if you don’t live there. Landlords notify new tenants starting on July 24, 2005 and current tenants by January 1, 2006. Landlords must supply information to tenants about the health hazards associated with mold and what steps a tenant must take to control mold. This information may be posted in a visible, public location. The mold pamphlet, which has been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, containing the required disclosure can be found here.

There are primarily five disclosure items to keep in mind if you are a Puget Sound property owner. The first is with regard to the Landlord-Tenant laws themselves. A summary of the Washington State and City of Seattle Landlord-Tenant laws must be supplied to the tenants at least once per year. This summary highlights the obligations of both the landlord and the tenants, including provisions regarding evictions. Tenants can recover actual damages, legal costs, and penalties through private action against landlords who violate this law.

The second is with regard to the lead paint. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development requires that landlords provide prospective residents with notice of certain known information regarding lead paint and lead-based paint hazards before leases take effect. This is a federal rather than a state or local requirement, but it is a law and it is mandatory. You can find the HUD Pamphlet on lead paint and lead-based paint hazards online at the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development site. If your building was built before 1978, print out the pamphlet, give it to your tenant, and have them sign or initial an acknowledgement indicating that they have received and reviewed the pamphlet.

Anything else I should do to ensure a great landlording experience?

The best thing that a landlord can do to ensure a great experience for himself and his tenants is to manage firmly, but fairly. By that, I mean that you should fix problems promptly when they are reported, be reasonable when tenants ask for things to be done or improvements to be made, make yourself reasonably accessible in the event that they need to contact you for any reason (my tenants have my cell phone number and my email address, both at work and at home), keep the property in a well-maintained state, and try to go above the call of duty if you can. If situations arise that are unforeseeable that cause your tenants some inconvenience, consider giving them a slight break on their monthly rent simply as a gesture even if you are not contractually obligated to do so. Even a $10 reduction in rent will buy a significant amount of goodwill, which will translate into fewer calls, more reasonable requests over time and, if something really does go wrong, your tenants will be more inclined to work with you to resolve the problem.

Federal law prohibits landlords from refusing to rent to a person or imposing different rental terms on a person on account of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status (having children or seeking custody of children), or national origin. State law gives protection as well to the same individuals regarding marital status, creed, the presence of sensory, mental or physical disability. Anyone of feels that they may have been a victim of housing discrimination may file a written complaint with the Washington State Human Rights Commission or the federal Fair Urban Housing Section of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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