Tenant Law in Washington
In Mountlake Terrace, Washington, it's not easy to be a tenant or a landlord, and relations between those parties can sometimes get testy.
Landlords and tenants have several rights and responsibilities. What follows is a partial list of the rights that landlords and tenants have, and the corresponding duties of the other party.
Landlord's Rights in Mountlake Terrace, WA
The most basic right that landlords have is the right to be paid the agreed-upon rent by their tenant. Obviously, renting apartments is how landlords earn a living, so they are entitled to collect the rent that the tenant agreed to pay.
Landlords also have a right to be compensated for damage to the building that a tenant causes, either intentionally or negligently. Any damage caused by a tenant, besides reasonable wear and tear, can be billed, and the landlord can deduct from the tenant's security deposit to pay for repairs.
Tenant's Rights in Mountlake Terrace, WA
At the most basic level, tenants have a basic right to what they're paying for: a habitable living environment. Therefore, landlords in Mountlake Terrace, Washington must ensure that the units they rent to tenants meet some basic standards for human habitation. These requirements vary from state to state, but are often fairly easy to meet. There are no legal requirements that rented units be pretty, particularly spacious, or luxurious. They simply have to be fit for human beings to live in them. To be considered "habitable," rented units must have water, electricity, some form of heating (if the local climate necessitates it), and adequate protection from the elements (proper insulation, no roof leaks, windows that close, etc.).
Furthermore, tenants are entitled to common areas which are reasonably safe and clean, and free of physical obstacles. Areas such as lobbies, hallways, stairwells, and fire escapes must comply with the building codes of Mountlake Terrace, Washington. Furthermore, any other unreasonable safety hazard, even if it doesn't violate a specific provision of a building code, can create liability for the landlord if it injures a tenant.
Under the laws of Washington, and the United States, discrimination in housing on the basis of race, religion, or gender is strictly prohibited. Furthermore, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, landlords must not discriminate against renters on the basis of any physical disability. They also have to allow the renter to make reasonable modifications to their apartment, to make it more accessible. Generally, landlords are only required to allow relatively minor and reversible modifications, and tenants cannot compel them to remodel the building, for example. Also, once the tenant leaves, the landlord can bill the tenant for the costs of restoring the apartment to its original condition.
Finally, the laws of most states protect tenants from unfair eviction. In general, as long as a tenant is paying rent on time, and is not damaging the unit, they cannot be evicted before the term of the lease expires, unless there is a very good reason to do so (such as excessive noise caused by the tenant, or illegal activities in the apartment).
Can a Mountlake Terrace, Washington Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Landlords and tenants almost always prefer to avoid conflict. In a perfect world, tenants would pay rent on time, and landlords would always provide the services that they're being paid for. As we know, the world isn't perfect. When circumstances demonstrate the world's imperfection, a Mountlake Terrace, Washington real estate attorney can help, whether you're a landlord or a tenant.