I am currently renting a house that i have found out has no occupancy permit. It didnt have a permit when I originally signed the lease either. The county building and permit department said that the landlord had just not paid for it yet and once they do it will be issued. Under RCW.59.18.085 it states that if a property is condemned or UNLAWFUL: "the tenant shall recover either three months' periodic rent or up to treble the actual damages sustained as a result of the violation, whichever is greater" I know the property isnt condemned, I have not recieved any notice from the county, but my question is; is it still considered "unlawful" by not having an occupancy permit and thereby am I entitled to recover three months rent?
Thanks for the input, I think I worded the title wrong. I'm more concerned about the beginning, specifically sections "1" and "2". Wouldn't the property be unlawful to occupy without this permit? and wouldnt they have knowingly violated this law having done some of the paperwork through the county but not pay for the permit? As far as harm goes I have had my credit card cancelled and the APR on the remaining balance was raised to 30% because the bank could not verify my address.
Landlord / Tenant Lawyer
Not yet. You have to give the landlord written notice of the issue (see 59 18 115) and define exactly what the landlord has failed to do- here, get the certificate of occupancy. This is,as you note, a big deal and I have sucessfully argued that this is analogous to driving without a license or the unauthorized practice of law for that matter.
The landlord has ten days to solve the issue. If the problem isn't solved in ten days, take a copy of your notice that you gave your landlord to the building department and ask them to set up the inspection. If the inspection shows the house STILL doesn't have a certificate of occupancy, then you are a lot closer to getting relocation damages. But the inspection is for specific physical problems with the tenancy.
But if it is just that the permit has not been paid yet, the other side of the argument is "no harm, no foul". These statutes are trying to offer protection and a way out to tenants who are living in slummy unmaintained properties who otherwise cannot get out.
Hope this helps. Elizabeth Powell