A number of laws and regulations govern the landlord and tenant relationship in Bellevue. We’re talking about some of those laws today so you can be sure you and your rental property are in compliance.
Understanding the Laws is Essential
It’s important to know these laws and what they mean to the operation of your investment property. They will be enforced by federal, state and local agencies, so you need to be in full compliance. We also recommend you keep documentation that supports your adherence to the laws. It can be expensive if you’re found violating any of these laws, and it also creates a lot of liability on your end. If you choose to self-manage rather than hire a professional Kirkland property management company, make sure you understand your legal responsibilities.
These laws change quickly and frequently, especially on a state and city level. You want to make sure you are keeping up with the changes and modifying your lease agreements and policies to reflect any updates or changes.
Federal Level Discrimination Laws
Educate yourself on all the federal laws that pertain to rental housing and the landlord/tenant relationship. The first two that come to mind are the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Protection Clause. You have to know the protected classes identified by the fair housing laws and the reasonable accommodations associated with tenants who have disabilities.
A good resource is the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website. There are also local fair housing classes that provide a great overview and can help you identify any areas where you may be in trouble.
State Level Housing Laws
In Washington State, the most important landlord and tenant laws will be found in the Revised Code of Washington, or RCW. You can go to the state website, and it will spell out all the rules associated with the landlord/tenant relationship and rental housing requirements. You’ll find a detailed list of the landlord’s duties and the tenant’s responsibilities. This is considered a great guide for landlords who need to understand the state’s expectations and requirements.
A lot of the rental property owners we talk to actually find that there’s a bit too much information on the website. It can be overwhelming and difficult to digest. We recommend that you take it slowly and break it into small bites. Understand the move-in and move-out process and how security deposits are to be handled. Get a basic overview of what you need to do, and then if you have any questions you can revisit what you’ve learned or reach out to a professional for guidance.
City Level Ordinances and Laws
City requirements also need attention. The laws will vary from city to city. You want to make sure you are keeping up with them because these are easier to modify, so they change fairly frequently. For example, Seattle includes protected classes in their fair housing laws that are not identified in the federal fair housing laws. So, make sure you know the details of Bellevue law or the requirements for your particular city.
It’s our job to stay up to date on all federal, state, and city laws. If you have any questions please contact us at SJA Property Management.