Documenting all your communications with your landlord is extremely important so that you can protect yourself if problems arise. Read Best Practices & Tips for Tenants for more details on the importance of maintaining a paper trail to document your communication with your landlord.
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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.
Researching Your Landlord FAQ
- Why is it important for me to know my landlord’s address?
- How can I document my communications with my landlord?
- What’s the difference between a landlord and a manager? How do I know who to send my letters to?
- Do I still need to send letters through the mail if my landlord lives in the same building or complex as me?
- What if the landlord is a corporation?
- What if my property doesn’t show up on the Parcel Viewer search, or the address listed for the landlord on the Parcel Viewer is the same as the address for my building, and the landlord doesn’t live here?
- What if tax payer information is not available online?
- What if I find more than one address? How do I know which one is correct?
- What if my landlord lives out of state?
You can prove that the letter was sent and received by sending it via email, regular first class mail, and certified mail, return receipt requested. Be sure and keep a copy for your own records. You can also hand deliver the letter and ask your landlord to sign and date your copy of the letter. You can also ask a reliable third party to witness your delivery of the notice to the landlord.
What’s the difference between a landlord and a manager? How do I know who to send my letters to?
The property owner is the person or people who own the property, and is your landlord. Many owners hire property management companies to handle the daily business of running the property, and they can also be considered landlords. Anyone designated by the landlord to be acting as their agent can be considered a landlord, and can be held responsible for all of the obligations of a landlord under the law.
Generally rental agreements will lay out specifically who to go to with concerns or repair requests and how to reach them. It is still very important for tenants to have the means to communicate directly with the owner of a property regarding their concerns and questions. Management companies work for the landlord, who may be uninvolved but still has ultimate decision-making authority over the property. You can send copies of your communication to the manager and the landlord directly.
Do I still need to send letters through the mail if my landlord lives in the same building or complex as me?
The best practice is to always get documentation of your communications with the landlord, even if they live in the same building or complex as you. Instead of sending your letters certified mail, you can ask the landlord or property manager to initial and date your copy of the letter to prove they received it. You can ask the landlord to sign a copy of the letter when an agreement is reached between the two of you.
Some landlords may be listed as corporations, denoted with Corp or Inc or “LLC” or another set of initials at the end of the name. If you see a name listed that seems like a corporation rather than a person, it’s a good idea to do some research to find out more. You can research corporate landlords at Washington Secretary of State website Corporations Search. There must be a mailing address for the registered agent of each corporation in Washington State. You can send correspondence regarding rental property there.
What if my property doesn’t show up on the Parcel Viewer search, or the address listed for the landlord on the Parcel Viewer is the same as the address for my building, and the landlord doesn’t live here?
Sometimes landlords do not have accurate mailing addresses filed with the county or the Secretary of State, or they may list the property address as their mailing address as well even if they don’t live at the property. If so, you may have to do a more extensive search to locate an address for your landlord. You can do a more detailed online search through the records office for your county. If you live in King County, you can visit the King County Recorder’s Office online or in person at the King County Administration Building, Room 311, 500 4th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104. You may also find useful information regarding the owner of your property by putting your landlord or the corporation’s name into an internet search engine. You can also look in the phone book or on the White Pages online for their address.
You can do a more detailed online search through the records office for your county. Visit the King County Recorder’s Office online or in person at the King County Administration Building, Room 311, 500 4th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104.
If you’re sending letters or non-court related communication you can send it to all the addresses you have, assuming one or more is correct. If you are attempting to serve a small claims or other lawsuit then you must have the correct address for the owner or the registered agent. If you’re unsure which address is correct, do all the research you can to find the correct address before you serve the papers on the landlord.
The landlord is required to provide a mailing address for themselves posted on the property and must provide the name and address of an agent within the county acting on their behalf if they live out of state, as required in RCW 59.18.060. Sometimes landlords only provide contact information for the property management company, or even provide no contact information at all. If so, you can research the property owner through the county’s Tax Assessor’s office. Landlords who live out of state still have all the same obligations under the Landlord-Tenant Act. If they violate a provision of RCW 59.18.060, they are deemed to have submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of Washington State courts. Tenants may serve notice of Small Claims Court upon them in the same manner of any landlord living within Washington State, as long as it served in accordance with the Landlord-Tenant Act. Out-of-state landlords who are served notices of Small Claims Court in Washington State are entitled to not less than 60 days to appear and answer.