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Privacy Rights FAQ

How much notice am I enti­tled to before my land­lord enters my unit?

Except in the case of emergency or if it is impracticable to do so, landlords must give forty-eight hours written notice to enter your unit, or twenty-four hours’ notice if they are showing the unit to a new prospective tenant or purchaser (RCW 59.18.150).

Do I have to let my land­lord enter the unit?

Yes. RCW 59.18.150 also requires that tenants must make the unit available for entry when necessary for inspection or repairs. Tenants must make the unit available to the landlord within reasonable times as well. If the landlord’s entry time doesn’t work for you, it’s a good idea to document that in writing to the landlord and suggest alternate times that you can make the unit available.

Does the notice to enter have to be in writing?

Yes, the notice must be in writing and provide the specific dates and time ranges the landlord expects to be in the unit.

What are rea­son­able times” for the land­lord to enter?

The law doesn’t specifically define reasonable times for the landlord to enter, but business hours (8 am – 6 pm) might be a good guideline to use. You can negotiate with your landlord to specifically define those hours together.

Can I insist on being present in the unit when the land­lord comes in?

The Landlord-Tenant Act does not allow for tenants to require that they be present during landlord entry, but tenants certainly have the right to ask to be present for any and all inspections by the landlord. If you are not certain what the inspection will entail, and you have concerns about it, look at your rental agreement to see if it offers any details on the frequency and purpose of landlord inspections. Tenants can also ask the landlord questions and ask for more details before an inspection.

Do I have to let the land­lord enter specif­i­cal­ly on the day and time that they give notice to come?

You may be able to negotiate with your landlord to come up with a day and time that works better for you. Tenants are required to allow the landlord entry to the unit within reasonable times. If the day and time that the landlord gave notice for doesn’t work for you, you may make the unit available for entry on alternate dates.

For what rea­sons can the land­lord legal­ly enter my unit? Does the land­lord have to explain their rea­sons for entry to me?

The Landlord-Tenant Act allows landlords to enter units to make agreed upon repairs, perform maintenance and do inspections. Landlords may also enter your unit in case of an emergency or to address an urgent problem. Landlords cannot abuse their right of access to your unit or use it to harass you. Neither does the law require that landlords officially disclose their reasons for entry, but tenants may still ask for detailed explanations.

How often can the land­lord enter or inspect my unit?

The law does not specifically say how often a landlord can enter a unit, but it does say that landlords cannot abuse their right of access or use it to harass the tenant.

Do the pri­va­cy laws include the land­lord com­ing onto the rental prop­er­ty and not just inside the unit?

The Landlord-Tenant Act refers specifically to the dwelling unit, though other laws may pertain to this situation. It may be a good idea to document in writing all the different instances the landlord comes into the property or on the premises. Keep in mind that RCW 59.18.150 prohibits the landlord from using their right of access to harass you. Contact an attorney for legal assistance and guidance.

Can I refuse my land­lord right of entry to my unit?

Tenants may refuse a landlord entry if they have not given proper legal notice to enter. RCW 59.18.150 also requires that tenants must make the unit available for entry when necessary for inspection or repairs. If your landlord violates your rights to privacy by entering the unit without giving the proper notice, you can send a letter to the landlord detailing the date and time of the alleged violation. Take a look at an Invasion of Privacy Sample Letter. It is always a good idea to send letters certified mail and first class mail, so you can prove that they were sent. Be sure and keep a copy of the letter for your records. Once the landlord receives this letter, you have the right to take the landlord to Small Claims Court to sue for up to $100 per subsequent violation of your notice rights. Likewise, the landlord can pursue the same remedy against the tenant if the tenant is unreasonably denying them access to the unit.

Can the land­lord give me a notice that they’re going to enter any­time dur­ing the day, or any­time dur­ing the week?

RCW 59.18.150 states that the landlord’s written notice for entry must specify exact dates and times for entry or list a specific time period, including earliest and latest possible times for entry on the specified date. The landlord’s notice must also include a telephone number for the tenant to reach the landlord in order to reschedule the entry. Tenants can also respond back in writing to a notice of entry that is extremely broad, cite the legal requirements and ask to set up a more specific time for landlord entry.