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Landlord's Duty to Maintain the Property in Washington

Posted by Quinn Posner | Dec 13, 2018 | 0 Comments

There are a lot of duties and obligations imposed upon Washington landlords under state law. One of these is the duty to keep the rental premises "fit for human habitation," a phrase taken directly from the code section. Specific duties are set forth in the code section, and it is important to follow this law to avoid penalties against you as a landlord.

With the help of experienced landlord/tenant attorney Quinn Posner, you as the landlord can rest assured that you are following Washington law while maintaining your properties.

Landlord's Duty to Maintain Premises

Under RCW 59.18.060, the landlord is required to keep the rental premises "fit for human habitation," and sets forth specific duties which fall under that requirement. The following is a brief overview of what is, in fact, a long and specific statute.

  1. Maintain the premises according to applicable codes and regulations.
  2. Maintain structural components such as the roof, floor, walls, chimneys, fireplaces, and foundations.
  3. Keep shared areas reasonably clean, sanitary, and safe from defects.
  4. Provide a reasonable program to control infestation by insects, rodents, and other pests.
  5. Make repairs and arrangements necessary to put premises in as good condition as it should be by law or as the rental agreement say it should be, excepting normal wear and tear.
  6. Provide reasonably adequate locks.
  7. Maintain and safeguard any master or duplicate keys to the premises.
  8. Maintain all electrical, plumbing, heating, and any appliances supplied by the landlord.
  9. Maintain unit in reasonably watertight condition.
  10. Except for single-family residences, provide and maintain appropriate trash receptacles and arrange for removal of trash.
  11. Provide facilities to provide heat and hot water to tenants.
  12. Provide written notice to tenants concerning all fire safety and protection information, including smoke detectors, sprinklers, alarms, smoking policies, etc.
  13. Provide written information about the risks of exposure to indoor mold.

The duties listed above are summaries of the actual language of the statute, which is far more comprehensive. To make sure you comply with Washington law, experienced landlord attorney Quinn Posner can help you create a plan of action to stay compliant.

What if the Problem With the Premises is the Tenant's Fault?

Under this code section, no duty is put on the landlord to repair a defective condition, nor is any remedy available to the tenant when the tenant is the cause of the issue. This includes any of the tenant's family, invitees, or others acting under the tenant's control.

The statute further does not punish landlords for failing to make necessary repairs when a tenant refuses to allow reasonable access to the property in order to make that repair.

Consult a Washington Landlord/Tenant Attorney

If you are a landlord in the state of Washington and have questions about whether your maintenance process complies with Washington law, or if you need assistance in dealing with a tenant who is causing damage to your rental properties, you do not have to go it alone.

Experienced landlord/tenant attorney Quinn Posner represents clients in Camas, Washougal, Vancouver, and the rest of Clark County. Contact Quinn Posner today to schedule a free consultation.

About the Author

Quinn Posner

Location: Vancouver, Washington Phone: 360-524-4767 Fax: 360.326.1913 As a former Clark County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney and in-house insurance defense attorney for a large international insurance company, litigation is my passion. That is why I have chosen personal injury and eviction law to focus my practice on.


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