Tenant and Landlord Resources

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Landlords are required to install carbon monoxide alarms in rental units. Tenants must maintain the alarms, including regular replacement of batteries. Alarms must be located outside each separate sleeping area and on each level of the residence. For more information on the carbon monoxide alarm requirements, see the State Building Code Council's carbon monoxide alarm rules.

Drinking Water

If the property is served by a private well, the landlord should have the water quality regularly tested. If the property is served by a community water system, tenants should be alerted to drinking water health advisories. Landlords should properly maintain any drinking water filtration equipment.

Fire Safety

Landlords must provide written fire safety information to tenants. Tenants must maintain the smoke detectors.

Lead

Landlords must give prospective tenants of buildings built before 1978:

  • EPA-approved information on identifying and controlling lead-based paint hazards. Use EPA's Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home booklet.
  • Any known information on lead-based paint hazards in the home or building. For multi-unit buildings, this requirement includes records and reports involving common areas and other units when that information was obtained in a building-wide evaluation.
  • A lead-disclosure attachment to the rental lease, or language inserted in the contract, that includes a “Lead Warning Statement” and confirms that the landlord complied with the notification requirements. See EPA's Sample Disclosure Form for Landlords.

Before signing a lease, tenants with concerns about lead can ask the landlord to get a lead hazard inspection from a certified inspector.

Landlords doing renovations, repairs, or painting properties built before 1978 must either hire or be a lead-safe certified firm. Lead-safe certified firms must take measures to control and remove all dust created during construction activities – watch a lead-safe certified remodeling video. If the work is disturbing less than six square feet or if tests for lead in the area to be disturbed are negative, lead-safe work practices are not required. Learn more about the EPA's Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule.

Mold

Both tenants and landlords have responsibilities for reducing moisture and mold problems. Tenants must operate heating and ventilation systems and notify landlords of water leaks or moisture problems. Landlords must fix building problems such as water leaks or ventilation defects which could cause moisture problems. Landlords must notify tenants about the health hazards associated with exposure to indoor mold and ways to prevent mold growth.

Learn more at Renters, Landlords, and Mold.

Pests

Mice, rats, bed bugs, and other pests, must be controlled by the landlord before the tenant moves in. The landlord must continue to control infestations except in single family dwellings, or when the infestation was caused by the tenant. The tenant is required to pay for the pest control if they were the cause of the infestation. Landlord and tenants should be aware of the dangers of improperly using bug bombs and pesticides.

Septic System

Tenants should keep solids, toxic substances, oils, and grease from going down the drain. Tenants should report leaking fixtures and any signs of surface sewage to the landlord immediately. Don't drive on, or plant anything other than grass or shallow-rooted plants over the septic tank and drainfield.

Landlords should let the tenant know where the septic system and drainfield is located and follow a maintenance schedule to have the septic system inspected and pumped. Landlords should fix leaking plumbing and fixtures. Landlords can install high-efficiency and low-flow fixtures and appliances.

Learn more about taking care of your on-site septic system.


More Resources

Landlord-Tenant Act

If you rent your home, you are covered by the state's Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (RCW 59.18). Owners of manufactured and mobile homes who rent space for their home in a park or community are under the Manufactured/Mobile Home Landlord Tenant Act (RCW 59.20).

Local city or county codes may have additional laws for landlords and tenants to follow, see MRSC's City and County Codes. Federal laws, such as the lead notification requirements, must also be followed.

Resolving Problems

Tenants should first contact their landlord if they have health concerns with their rental unit. In many cases, landlords and tenants can resolve problems with good communication and understanding their responsibilities under the Landlord-Tenant Act. The following resource may also help.