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.

(spot)Light: Hina Arai

Hina Arai is the Utility Hearing Officer for City Light. Born in Pakistan, her family moved to the states, with stops in New York and Massachusetts before making a permanent home in the Pacific Northwest. She grew up in Aberdeen and attended college at the University of Washington (UW), majoring in Business Administration and minoring in Women’s Studies. She attended law school at California Western University.

Hina lives in the Wedgewood area with her husband Andrew and sons Joseph (2 ½ years) and Asher (7 months). “I love love love my neighborhood,” she said. “My parents live four houses down, which is fantastic. My other neighbors have kids the same age as my oldest so we get together for play dates and special events; it just feels like we live amongst an extended family.” In this week’s (spot)Light, Hina talks about her career path, the importance of giving back and her favorite park in Seattle.

Hina with her family

“I love living in Seattle. The local parks are wonderful. Not just how accessible and clean they are, but how we, as a city, prioritize the value they add to our communities. Greenlake is my favorite. I ran it in college and, though I didn’t know him at the time, my husband also did. Naturally, when we started dating, we’d run the lake together. In fact, that’s where we got engaged and took our engagement photos. Our fist apartment also overlooked the lake, so, it’s obviously a special place for us.”

“I started my career with internships and externships in Federal Indian law. After my first year of law school, I worked with UW’s Tribal Law Clinic representing tribal members in Tribal Court under supervision. It was amazing because as a law student, you are required to take the Tribal BAR exam and get a glimpse of what real litigation is like.  The next year, I worked with the in-house counsel for the Snoqualmie Tribe and then went on to the Department of Justice in Washington D.C. to work with the Office of Tribal Justice. After law school, I took the BAR exam and worked here in Seattle for a local firm representing various Tribes in criminal and civil matters.”

“My focus at City Light is dispute resolution for customers, things like billing disputes, landlord/tenant issues, bankruptcy/foreclosure issues and helping our claims unit with property damage cases. I also serve as a strategic advisor and give guidance to business units. I’m also the privacy champion for City Light and review different projects that have potential privacy impacts, which I enjoy. In this day and age, I believe it’s important that our customers know that we value and understand how critical their privacy is.”

“I like the culture of the utility. I value the City’s RSJI initiative and City Light’s commitment to it. I enjoy working in the public sector and serving my community. I think it’s very important to feel connected to where you live. To not only feel valued, but to add value.”

Thank you, Hina, for serving the utility since October 2013 and for always putting our community first!