The rental agreement you use for your property in Seattle is an important document that protects you as well as your tenants. Do not go online and download any generic rental agreement template you can find. There are specific things you need to include, according to the Seattle Landlord Tenant Act, in order to make your lease legal and enforceable. Here’s some advice for making sure you have a strong rental agreement.
Work with a property manager when you need a rental agreement, or talk to an experienced attorney who specializes in landlord and tenant law. You might not like paying for legal advice, but in this case it will save you from potential errors and mistakes that will only be more costly. There are local ordinances in Seattle that require specific actions from a landlord, and if you miss them you can expect to find yourself in court. For example, while there is no rent control law in Seattle or the state of Washington, you need to give your tenants 30 days notice before you raise the rent or increase the cost of parking, utilities or other housing costs. 60 days if the increase is 10 or more percent. A professional property manager or an attorney will make sure your rental agreement has everything it needs.
Name All Tenants
Every adult occupant who is 18 years of age or older must be named on the lease and must sign the lease. Adult children often live at home with their parents, so make sure to include everyone over 18 on your rental agreement. Imagine trying to evict a person who is living in the property but not actually mentioned in the rental agreement. You’ll have a hard time.
Your rental agreement needs to cover every possible contingency. Include information about who pays what utilities, list the appliances that are provided with the property and spell out how much rent is due, which day of the month it is due and how the tenant should pay it. Stipulate late fees and penalties, address how you expect the property to be maintained and make sure you include the required language about Seattle’s noise ordinance and right to quiet enjoyment.
Go over the details of your rental agreement with your tenant before it’s signed. That ensures the tenant understands everything that’s included and it also gives your tenant the opportunity to ask any questions about things that might be confusing or unclear. If you are renting out property within the city of Seattle, you’re also required to provide your tenants with a summary of the Seattle Landlord Tenant laws. You can get this summary from the Department of Planning and Development.
You will need to refer to your rental agreement at several points during your tenancy, so make sure it’s thorough and compliant with all state and local laws. If you have any questions, or you need help creating a rental agreement for your own property, please contact us at Dave Poletti & Associates.