A landlord should always know how to handle the end of a tenancy and any changes for a following agreement term. Any violation to the procedures and notice periods in terminating a tenancy can create an issue with the tenant and the possession to the property.

A tenancy can be ended in one of four ways: 1) by a mutual agreement between the landlord and tenant to terminate the agreement, 2) by the tenant providing 30 days’ notice prior to the expiration of the agreement term that they intend to vacate premises at the end of the agreement term, and 3) by the tenant not providing notice to quit and the landlord agrees, the tenancy will continue on a month-to-month basis for which the landlord must give 20 days’ notice for agreement term to end or tenant must give 30 days’ notice for agreement term to end. The final fourth way that an agreement term can end is via holdover, in which the tenant continues in possession of premises after the agreement term has ended and the landlord has not agreed to this situation. Holdover rent is double the original monthly rent, computed and prorated for each day that the tenant remains in possession of premises.

Rent changes and notice

During the tenancy, you, the landlord, cannot change any aspect of the lease including but not limited to: the rental rate and other agreement terms within the lease. For a new tenancy you can change the rental rate and other agreement terms by providing at least 30 days’ notice to the tenant if you and your tenant intend to renew the tenancy.

Washington has a few other notice periods that you should be aware of:

  • If you intend to institute a policy within the premises that excludes children, you must provide the tenant with at least 90 days’ written notice beforehand.
  • If you intend to change any apartment or apartments to a condominium form of ownership, you must provide written notice of at least 120 days beforehand to tenant.

Status of tenant or applicant

You are legally unable to terminate a tenancy, fail to renew a tenancy, or refuse to enter into a rental agreement based on the tenant’s or applicant’s or a household member’s status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking as per RCW § 59.18.575.

Grounds for premature termination of tenancy

Some Washington statutes allow either the landlord or the tenant to prematurely terminate the agreement period, even if the other party has not agreed to said termination.

Landlords are allowed to terminate the agreement if:

  • The tenant or tenant’s occupants, guests, or invitees fail to comply with any terms in the agreement (usually regarding usage of the premises)
  • The tenant misrepresents any material fact on their rental application
  • Or otherwise provided by law

Tenants are allowed to terminate the agreement if:

  • The landlord fails to remedy a defective condition regarding habitability, safety, or compliance with any applicable code, statute, ordinance, or regulation governing the maintenance or operation of the premises within a reasonable time.
  • The tenant (or their spouse or dependent) is a member of the armed forces and they receive reassignment or deployment orders.
  • The tenant was threatened by another tenant residing in the premises, the threat was made by a deadly weapon, the threatening tenant was arrested, and the landlord failed to file an unlawful detainer action against threatening tenant within 7 calendar days after notice of arrest.
  • The tenant was threatened by landlord with a deadly weapon, and the threat lead to the arrest of the landlord.
  • The tenant is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, unlawful harassment, or stalking.
  • Or otherwise provided by law.