Seattle Housing Authority Listening Session & Project Culmination

Restricted Language in Rental Agreements

If a lease contains a section or language that attempts to waive your rights defined in the Landlord-Tenant Act that particular section is considered unenforceable. The rest of the lease will still be valid. No rental agreement may forego your rights or remedies, require you to pay attorney’s fees that aren’t authorized by law, indemnify the landlord from costs they are responsible, or create a lien against the tenant’s property. Read the language of the law for a full list.

If a landlord deliberately includes this kind of language in the lease with the knowledge it is prohibited the tenant can seek up to a $500 penalty, damages, court cost and attorney fees.

The Landlord-Tenant Act states that tenants must comply with all reasonable restrictions and rules spelled out in a rental agreement. If the rule is unreasonable then the tenant may not have to comply with it, however the statute does not spell out what is a reasonable rule. It is intentionally left broad as there can be many different types of rules in a rental agreement. It is a good idea to consult with an attorney to seek advice on whether a lease provision is reasonable or not. If a tenant is going to make an argument for unreasonableness they should evaluate how extreme the rule appears. For example, a rule that states the tenant can have absolutely no guests over would likely be unreasonable as it is a strict rule that serves no discernible purpose. However, if the guest policy stated that a guest can stay for no more than 14 days at a time, it may be considered a reasonable restriction.

Tenants Union Tenant Counselors are not attorneys, and this information should not be considered legal advice. Please read our full Tenant Union Disclaimer.