Washington State has a long list of maintenance responsibilities for both the landlord and the tenant. The majority of these responsibilities pertain to either party complying with applicable provisions of all municipal, county, and state codes, statutes, ordinances, and regulations regarding their role as landlord or tenant, but there are some additional requirements of each party.

Responsibilities of Landlord

  • keep any shared or common areas reasonably clean, sanitary, and safe from defects increasing the hazards of fire or accident
  • provide pest control
  • make repairs and arrangements necessary to put and keep the premises in as good condition as it by law or rental agreement should have been, at the commencement of the tenancy
  • provide working locks and furnish keys to tenant; maintain and safeguard any master key or duplicate keys
  • maintain all electrical, plumbing, heating, and other facilities and appliances supplied by landlord; maintain the premises in reasonably weathertight condition
  • provide facilities adequate to supply heat, water and hot water as reasonably required by tenant
  • provide and maintain appropriate receptacles in common areas for the removal of ashes, rubbish, and garbage, incidental to the occupancy and arrange for the reasonable and regular removal of such waste
  • provide fire safety and protection information to tenant
  • provide tenant with information provided or approved by the department of health about the health hazards associated with exposure to indoor mold. The information must be provided by landlord to new tenants at the time the lease or rental agreement is signed
  • inform tenant of the name and address of the landlord for the property

Responsibilities of Tenant

  • keep the premises as clean and sanitary as the conditions of the premises permit
  • properly dispose of all rubbish, garbage, and other organic or flammable waste, in a clean and sanitary manner at reasonable and regular intervals, and assume all costs of extermination and fumigation for infestation caused by tenant
  • properly use and operate all electrical, gas, heating, plumbing and other fixtures and appliances supplied by landlord
  • not intentionally or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any part of the structure or dwelling
  • not permit a nuisance or common waste
  • not engage in drug-related activity at the premises, or allow a subtenant, sublessee, resident, or anyone else to engage in drug-related activity at the premises with the knowledge or consent of tenant
  • maintain the smoke detection device in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, including the replacement of batteries
  • not engage in any activity at the premises that is imminently hazardous to the physical safety of other persons on the premises; entails physical assaults upon another person which result in an arrest; or entails the unlawful use of a firearm or other deadly weapon which results in an arrest, including threatening another tenant or landlord with a firearm or other deadly weapon
  • not engage in any gang-related activity at the premises
  • upon termination and vacation, restore the premises to its initial condition except for reasonable wear and tear

Repairs and Notices

If something is in need of repair on the premises or if the landlord fails to carry out the maintenance duties required of him then the tenant can deliver written notice to the landlord describing the nature of the defective condition. Unless there are circumstances beyond the landlord’s control, the repairs must be attended to after receipt of the notice. In addition, there are some specific time periods for work to begin depending on the nature of the defect

  • not more than twenty-four hours, where the defective condition deprives the tenant of hot or cold water, heat, or electricity, or is imminently hazardous to life;
  • not more than seventy-two hours, where the defective condition deprives the tenant of the use of a refrigerator, range and oven, or a major plumbing fixture supplied by the landlord; and
  • not more than ten days in all other cases.

Tenant's Repair and Deduct Remedy

The tenant has the ability to repair problems that result from the landlord failing to comply with his maintenance obligations. The lawful right of the tenant to “repair and deduct” is specified in RCW § 59.18.100 and allows the tenant to deduct the cost of repairs from the rent, up to specified amounts depending on the nature of the repair and if a repair cost estimate was obtained by the tenant.

Tenant's Failure to Comply

The landlord can also provide a written notice to the tenant if the tenant fails to comply with their obligations. If the noncompliance can substantially affect the health and safety of the tenant or other tenants, or substantially increase the hazards of fire or accident, and be remedied by repair, replacement of a damaged item, or cleaning, then the tenant must comply within thirty days after written notice by the landlord. Of course, if it’s an emergency situation then the tenant’s compliance should be as promptly as necessary. The landlord can enter the unit and perform the work if the tenant fails to remedy the noncompliance within the 30-day period. The landlord can then submit an itemized bill of the actual cost of the repair, to be payable on the next rent payment date, or immediately if the tenancy has been terminated.