Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1967 NO. 4 >

Where facts occur which constitute a violation of both RCW 9.45.040 and RCW 19.48.110 (relating to obtaining accommodations by fraud), the crime is to be regarded as a gross misdemeanor pursuant to the provisions of the latter statute.

AGO 1992 NO. 5 >

RCW 35.21.830 and 36.01.130 preempt local governments from imposing rent controls on residential structures or sites.  An ordinance that prohibits landlords from terminating residential tenancies by increasing rent is a type of rent control and is preempted by these statutes. 

AGO 1974 NO. 8 >

(1) A leasehold interest which would have qualified for a property tax exemption under the terms of § 11 (1), chapter 187, Laws of 1973, 1st Ex. Sess., as of January 1, 1973, and which has not been "renegotiated" within the meaning of § 3 (3) at any time in 1973, is exempt from such taxation for that assessment year with respect to property taxes due and payable in 1974; however, this same leasehold interest would not qualify for such an exemption from property taxes due and payable in 1974 if the leasehold had been "renegotiated" between January 1, 1973, and July 16, 1973, the effective date of chapter 187, supra. (2) In the determination of "economic rent" as defined in § 3 (1), chapter 187, supra, a county assessor is not conclusively bound by a determination of "contract rent" made by an impartial arbitration board or, in the case of creation of a new leasehold interest, by open public bidding ‑ although this would be one of the relevant circumstances which the assessor is to consider. (3) Where there is a change in consideration to be paid by the lessee to the lessor but the term of the lease is shortened rather than extended, a "renegotiation" does not occur within the meaning of § 3 (3) of chapter 187, supra. (4) In order for a leasehold interest granted by an Indian to a non-Indian to be exempt from property taxation under § 11 (8), chapter 187, supra, the real property which is subject thereto must be that land of an Indian or Indian tribe that is held in trust by the United States or is subject to a restraint against alienation imposed by the United States.

AGO 1974 NO. 11 >

(1) RCW 59.18.270 does not require a landlord to maintain separate account for each tenant's security deposit; accordingly, the landlord may maintain a single account for the security deposits of all his tenants.  (2) If interest is earned through the investment of a tenant's security deposit, that interest belongs to the tenant.  (3) Interest earned on a tenant's security deposit may be retained by the landlord as a part of his rental charges for the premises involved if express provision to that effect is included in the rental agreement.

AGLO 1979 NO. 12 >

(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.

AGO 1976 NO. 17 >

It is not contrary to the Washington state law against discrimination, chapter 49.60 RCW, for a person to discriminate on the basis of sex, age or religion in selecting a roommate with whom to share living quarters, or for a person to specify in an advertisement for a roommate that the roommate must be of a particular sex, age or religion, or for a newspaper to publish an advertisement for a roommate when the advertisement contains such a specification.

AGO 1984 NO. 18 >

Owners of residential income properties may assign their entitlement (under RCW 59.18.270) to interest on a trust bank account containing damage or security deposits to the real estate broker managing the property who has been designated as the representative of the owner; however, in order to avoid a violation of RCW 18.85.310, the interest moneys must not be initially deposited into the trust account but must, instead, be immediately credited to the real estate broker's own separate account.

AGO 1981 NO. 21 >

To the extent that it requires smoke detection devices to be installed in all dwelling units occupied by persons other than the owner on and after December 31, 1981, RCW 48.28.140 [48.48.140] covers the ordinary landlord-tenant situation as generally defined and regulated by the Residential Landlord-tenant Act (chapter 59.18 RCW); accordingly, unless the legal relationship of owner-tenant also exists in a given case, the foregoing provision does not apply to dwelling units occupied by the grantor of a trust who continues to reside in the dwelling place or by his or her surviving spouse or family, or by a ward in a guardianship case, or by the donee of a dwelling unit under the Uniform Gift of Realty to Minors Act.

AGO 1984 NO. 30 >

Under RCW 59.20.070(1) a mobile home landlord may not prohibit or restrict a tenant from advertising that his or her mobile home is for sale by such normal means as posting a sign either on the mobile home itself or on the leased or rented premises.

AGLO 1978 NO. 37 >

The provisions of RCW 59.20.080, limiting the reasons for which a mobile home lot tenancy may be terminated by the landlord, do not apply in the case of a month-to-month tenancy not covered by a written rental agreement.