LANDLORD AND TENANT ‑- MOBILE HOME LOTS ‑- RENEWAL OF WRITTEN RENTAL AGREEMENTS
(1) Chapter 59.20 RCW, the mobile home landlord-tenant act, does not require a landlord to offer a mobile home lot tenant a one‑year rental agreement annually at renewal time.
(2) Chapter 59.20 RCW does not require the offer of a one‑year lease renewal in instances where the tenant has previously waived his or her right to a one‑year rental agreement.
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March 2, 1979
Honorable Claude Oliver
State Rep., 8th Dist.
406 House Office Building
Olympia, Washington 98504 Cite as: AGLO 1979 No. 12
Dear Representative Oliver:
By recent letter you have requested our opinion on questions which we paraphrase as follows:
(1) Does chapter 59.20 RCW, the Mobile Home Landlord-Tenant Act, require a landlord to offer a mobile home lot tenant a one‑year rental agreement annually at renewal time?
(2) Does chapter 59.20 RCW require the offer of a one‑year lease renewal in instances where the tenant has previously waived his or her right to a one‑year rental agreement?
(3) If the answer to either of these questions is affirmative, what is the legal effect of a landlord's failure to make the required offer?
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
We answer your first two questions in the negative for the reasons set forth in our analysis, thereby rendering consideration of your third question unnecessary.
A landlord, as defined in the Mobile Home Landlord-Tenant Act, is one who rents mobile home lots. RCW 59.20.030(2). The renting of mobile homes, as opposed to lots, is governed by the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, RCW 59.18.030(1). See AGLO 1978 No. 37, copy enclosed. This opinion, like that earlier one, focuses only on the responsibilities of a landlord who rents mobile home lots.
Such a landlord may not offer a mobile home lot for rent without offering the prospective tenant a written rental agreement for a term of one year or more. RCW 59.20.050. The statute further provides that any such one‑year rental agreement is to be automatically renewed for an additional six months. RCW 59.20.090(1). The only exceptions to this requirement arise in instances where the landlord has given written notice three months prior to the termination date of the rental agreement that it will either not be renewed or will be renewed subject to certain changes. Thus, in response to your first question, a landlord is not required to offer a one‑year renewal at the end of an initial one‑year rental term. Rather, the landlord has the option of terminating the rental agreement or proposing new conditions. However, if a landlord fails to do either, the rental agreement is then automatically renewed for six months. It should also be noted that, under the statute, the terms of an initial rental agreement itself may lawfully provide for renewal terms other than for a one‑year term.
This question restates question (1) with the additional qualification that the tenant, having been offered a one‑year rental agreement by the landlord, has waived that right. RCW 59.20.050 provides that a tenant may make a written waiver of his or her right to a rental agreement of at least one year. If the tenant executes such a waiver, the resulting tenancy is then on a month-to-month basis. Under such circumstances there would be no one‑year rental agreement and, therefore, there would be no anniversary date which would give rise to a [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] renewal right under the statute. This result arises from the fact that RCW 59.20.090 applies only to one‑year-term rental agreements. Therefore the tenant's initial waiver would be complete and no statutory renewal right would arise.
While the terms of your request do not require an answer to your third question since we have answered your first two questions in the negative, it may be helpful to point out the remedies which would be available against a landlord who violates chapter 59.20 RCW. A violation of any of the statutory requirements of this chapter by a landlord would constitute an unfair business practice and be, per se, a violation of the State Consumer Protection Act. See, RCW 19.86.020 andState v. Reader's Digest Ass'n, 81 Wn.2d 259, 501 P.2d 290 (1972). Such a violation would thus be subject to the remedies provided in the Consumer Protection Act including injunction; recovery of costs (including attorney's fees); restitution (for the injured consumer) and a civil penalty of $2,000 per violation in a suit by the Attorney General; and, finally, an injunction, treble damages and recovery of costs and reasonable attorney's fees in a suit by a private party damaged by such a violation.
We trust that this answers the questions which you raised.
Very truly yours,
THOMAS L. BOEDER
Senior Assistant Attorney General