Before using this information, please read:
To read the specific laws in the WA State Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, click on the RCW (Revised Code of Washington) links throughout the Tenant Services website.
Tenants Union Tenant Counselors are not attorneys, and this information should not be considered legal advice. Please read our full Tenant Union Disclaimer.
Some of the following resources are specific to King County. For resources in your area, contact the Washington State 2-1-1 at 2-1-1 from a landline, 206-461-3200 or 800-621-4636 or 206-461-3610 for TTY/hearing impaired calls. 2-1-1 is a clearinghouse for all community resources, including rental assistance and low-income housing.
- Solid Ground Tenant Services: 206-694-6767, TTY 7-1-1 — Solid Ground’s housing counseling services provide tenants with the resources and tools they need to prevent eviction and ensure housing stability. Open Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 am – 4:30 pm.
Some of the following resources are specific to King County. For resources in your area, contact the Washington State 2-1-1 at 2-1-1 from a landline, 206-461-3200 or 800-621-4636 or 206-461-3610 for TTY/hearing impaired calls.
- Washington LawHelp: (online only) — Provides self-help legal information for renters, including detailed packets on repairs, deposits, small claims court and the eviction process.
- CLEAR Line Legal Help: 888-201-1014 — Northwest Justice Project’s free legal help and assistance for low-income Washington State residents. Open Mon–Fri, 9:15 am–12:15 pm.
- Housing Justice Project: 206-267-7090 — King County Bar Association’s walk-in legal information and assistance. Priority service for renters facing evictions. Open Mon–Fri, 8–10:30 am, in the King County Courthouse in Seattle and Kent Regional Justice Center. Seattle location also open Mon, 4–6 pm.
- Legal Action Center: 206-324-6890 — A part of Catholic Community Services, Legal Action Center offers legal advice and assistance for low-income Seattle renters facing eviction, repair problems, deposit loss, subsidy termination, lockouts and other issues.
- Neighborhood Legal Clinics: 206-267-7070 — King County Bar Association’s legal clinics located across King County, NLC attorneys can provide a free half hour of legal advice to renters, regardless of income.
1. If You Cannot Pay Your Rent
Contact your landlord as soon as you realize you may not be able to pay your rent. Clear communication is essential. Let your landlord know that while you may not be able to pay on time, you are looking for help. Ask if he or she will accept partial payments until the rent is paid in full — and write out a payment plan that you can afford.
2. Where to Turn
Start by calling Washington State 211 at 2-1-1 from a landline, 206-461-3200 or 800-621-4636 or 206-461-3610 for TTY/hearing impaired calls. You’ll be asked to explain your situation and give your address and zip code for referrals to agencies serving the area where you live. The staff at the Community Information Line will tell you about agencies that can help with rental and move-in costs. They can also refer you to other resources such as financial education classes.
People who own manufactured homes but rent the space they live on are not covered under the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act. The Manufactured/Mobile Home Landlord-Tenant Act is RCW 59.20. Many aspects of this website do not apply to them. Tenants who rent both the space they live in and the manufactured home itself are covered by the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, RCW 59.18 and all the information on this site applies to them.
If you own your manufactured home but rent the space you live on, see below for resources and information on how to resolve housing problems.
Many cities have code enforcement offices that will send inspectors to take a look at any rental housing code violations. Availability and responsiveness vary from city to city and not all municipalities do inspections. Some inspectors will follow up directly with a landlord to ensure that housing codes are being met and permits up-to-date. Typically Code Enforcement will want you to first go through the initial repair process of notifying the landlord in writing of the need for a repair and to wait the appropriate timeframe.
Be aware that if your unit lacks water or electricity, it could be condemned by the city. Call Code Enforcement to describe your situation and ask them what actions they are likely to take so that you can balance the decision to file a complaint.
Some municipalities will be able to impose fines on the landlord, or otherwise penalize code violations. If the city provides inspections be sure to ask for a copy of their report as this documentation can be very helpful.
The Seattle Department of Planning & Development (DPD) can be reached at 206-615-0808. Search for your city code enforcement office online or call City Hall and ask for the office that enforces building codes. They are otherwise known as the Planning, Community Development, or Building Code Enforcement departments.
Mediation and dispute resolution are invaluable tools to assist renters in solving problems with landlords. Since there is no enforcement for landlord-tenant laws in Washington State, negotiation with landlords is one of the best ways to solve problems and assert your rights.
Every county in Washington offers free dispute resolution and mediation services. For more information and a detailed list of organizations, go to Resolution Washington or the Washington Courts Dispute Resolution Centers listings.
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