When you rent out your investment property in Seattle and you decide to manage it yourself, you need to become familiar with the rental property laws in the city. Most of those laws can be found in the Washington Landlord Tenant Act, but that’s not your only reference. There are also areas of common law that you need to pay attention to.
Common law is a rule that comes from judicial decisions, even if there is no specific Washington law in place. In Seattle, the covenant of quiet enjoyment is a common law that has been upheld by judges in court case after court case. The covenant of quiet enjoyment requires you, as a landlord, to provide a peaceful and habitable property for your tenants. It also requires you to rectify any disturbances that may occur and hinder your tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment.
The covenant of quiet enjoyment is implied in your lease. While your tenants are living in your property, they have the right to be left alone to enjoy that property. This means you cannot stop by without notice or show up weekly to check out the property. You cannot interfere with your tenant and the property. Included in the “quiet enjoyment” implication is protection against unlawful evictions or foreclosures of your home. If you find yourself needing to evict your tenant, make sure your reasons are well-documented and all of the necessary legal steps have been taken to ensure you do not bring a wrongful eviction against your tenants, resulting in a complaint that you violated their quiet enjoyment of the property.
What you must provide
Many Seattle landlords fail to realize that quiet enjoyment includes habitability issues. Your tenants cannot enjoy the property if the electrical system keeps breaking down, or there is no hot water or heat. You must provide water, heat, electricity and other provisions with the property that allow the tenants to live there. Tenants have taken their landlords to court in Washington State because their drinking water was unsafe. Make sure all habitability issues in your rental home are addressed before the tenants move in.
The principle of quiet enjoyment is taken seriously by Seattle courts. As a landlord, you need to make sure your tenants are free to live in your property undisturbed for the period of the lease. You also need to make sure there are no habitability concerns that might make them bring a claim against you. If you’re not sure what you need to do to provide your tenants with quiet enjoyment, contact us at Dave Poletti & Associates. We’d be happy to further explain this area of common law and help you position yourself for a successful rental experience.