Tips for Renters and Landlords

The Property Owner and Tenant Assistance unit at SDCI works to empower renters and landlords and help them to understand their rights and obligations under Seattle City law. If necessary, we take enforcement action to make sure they follow the law.

Top Tips for Renters

  • Pay your rent: Renters should not withhold rent in order to get their landlords to do something, such as making repairs. Withholding rent that can make a renter vulnerable to eviction and makes it harder to protect their rights.
  • Communicate with your landlord in writing: It can be hard to prove verbal conversations, so whenever possible, communicate in writing. If something has been discussed verbally you can always confirm that conversation in writing. Additionally, state law requires repair requests to be in writing.
  • Read and understand your lease: It is important that you read your lease before you sign it! Landlords can only enforce terms in the lease, and terms can only be changed by mutual agreement or, in a month-to-month tenancy, with 30 days’ notice.

Top Tips for Landlords

  • Learn the law: As a landlord it is your responsibility to understand and follow the law. There is a lot of good information on our website  or you could join a professional organization.
  • Make repairs promptly: When you are responsive to repair needs you will ensure a better relationship with your renter and you will prevent more damage from occurring. It is also the law! Repairs must be done between 24 hours and ten days from when they are requested, depending on the issue.
  • Communicate with your renter in writing: It is a best practice to put all requests and communications with renters in writing. This will prevent confusion about what is required for all parties. For instance, generally landlords must give 48 hours’ written notice before entering a tenant’s rental unit.

You can reach the Property Owner and Tenant Assistance unit by calling (206) 615-0808.