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Washington state Landlord/Tenant Laws... WEIRD LEASE AGREEMENT!!

Tacoma, WA |

Are there any limits as to what landlords can demand in a lease? I looked at a lovely apt today, but had to shell out $120 in application and background check fees ugh... to top it off, the landlord requires all tenants to have security alarms or some kind of security in their vehicles, but yet the ad states that the area is certified 100% crime-free by the local police. Additionally, he will make me take a "Recycling quiz" so that I know how to properly recycle. If I fail or refuse the test, he will add on another $40 per month to the rent. There is also a law that we cannot have candles. CANDLES!! The apt is so cheap, though and I really like it. However, I also want to know my rights!

Attorney Answers 1


If you want to learn the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, you can read Chapter 59.18 RCW (Residential landlord-tenant act). The statutes are at .

The WA Office of the Attorney General also publishes a pamphlet on renting. The pamphlet is available at . Click on the link on the left of the page.

Just going by the facts as given in your post, it does not appear that the landlord is doing anything obviously unlawful. Whether the landlord is violating some laws depend on the specific facts which you may review with an attorney.

RCW 59.18.257 (Screening of tenants – Costs – Notice to tenant – Violation) limits the fees a landlord may charge for background check. $120 is expensive but not so expensive that it would be unreasonable in all cases.

Police departments do not certify any area as crime free. If the landlord's ads actually state that the police department is certifying this fact, ask the landlord for the certification document. The landlord's inability to produce this document may cause legal problems for the landlord. The statement may just be puffing (inflating claims of worthiness).

Candles are dangerous. If not used carefully, candles can cause the whole building to burn down.

If the landlord is subjecting all tenants to the requirements of security alarms, recycling quiz, and no candle, the landlord likely is not violating any statute.

You need to consider the situation carefully. What else is the landlord demanding from the tenants? Will the landlord be nitpicking over every little details once you are in?

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