Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

If you rent your home you are covered by the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (RCW 59.18).  In a 1985 decision, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the Consumer Protection Act does not cover violations of the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act.  Therefore, we do not handle consumer complaints about issues covered by the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act.  However, we have provided a list of resources for those seeking information regarding residential landlord/tenant issues. 

The Attorney General's Office has the legal authority to accept and attempt to resolve disputes concerning issues that arise from mobile/manufactured tenancy where an individual owns the home and rents a lot for the home in a mobile/manufactured home park.  If this applies to you contact the Manufactured Housing Dispute Resolution Program  at (866) WAG-MHLTA (1-866-924-6458) or file a complaint regarding your mobile/manufactured home dispute. 

If your landlord-tenant issue demands immediate legal action, you may want to seek Landlord Tenant resources for legal advice, mediation or Small Claims Court (for claims under $5,000 — no attorney necessary). If your complaint involves more than $5,000, you may wish to seek a private attorney.


Protections for homeowners & renters in the face of COVID-19

Governor Inslee's moratorium on certain residential evictions during COVID-19

For complaints about evictions in violation of the Governor’s moratorium on certain residential evictions during the COVID-19 public health emergency, visit: https://fortress.wa.gov/atg/formhandler/ago/COVID19EvictionComplaintForm.aspx

The CARES Act:

For homeowners with federally backed loans:

  • The CARES Act provides two major protections for homeowners with federally backed loans:
  1. A foreclosure moratorium; and
  2. A right to forbearance (a pause or reduction on mortgage payments for a limited period of time) for homeowners who are experiencing a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 emergency. Borrowers must attest to financial hardship to receive the forbearance; they will not be automatically granted.

For renters:

  • If you are renting from an owner who has a federally backed mortgage, the CARES Act provides for a suspension or moratorium on evictions.
  • If your landlord has a federally backed mortgage or multi-family mortgage, you cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent for 120 days beginning on March 27, 2020, the effective date of the CARES Act. After the 120-day period is up, the landlord cannot require you, the tenant, to vacate until providing you with a thirty-day notice to vacate.

Other provisions that may be of help to homeowners:

  • The “2020 Recovery Payment” is a provision that could help homeowners pay their mortgage loans. The legislation provides checks of up to $1,200 for single taxpayers, $2,400 for married joint filers, and $500 for each dependent child, with rebates phasing out for higher income taxpayers.
  • Similarly, the CARES Act provides for increased unemployment benefits that will provide an additional $600/week payment to each recipient of unemployment insurance for up to four months, as well as an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits through Dec. 31, 2020, for those who remain unemployed after state unemployment benefits are no longer available.
  • Many homeowners (and millennial homeowners in particular) could also see relief from the provision that suspends payments automatically for federal student loans through Sept. 30, 2020, with no interest accruing or penalties during the period of suspension.

Washington State Department of Financial Institutions

  • On March 20, DFI issued guidance for mortgage servicers to assist borrowers: https://dfi.wa.gov/sites/default/files/servicer-guidance-covid-19.pdf
  • The guidance requests (but does not require) that Regulated and Exempt Residential Mortgage Loan Servicers support impacted borrowers by:
  • Forbearing mortgage payments for 90 days from their due dates;
  • Refraining from reporting late payments to credit rating agencies for 90 days;
  • Offering mortgagors an additional 90-day grace period to complete trial loan modifications, and ensuring that late payments during the COVID-19 pandemic does not affect their ability to obtain permanent loan modifications;
  • Waiving late payment fees and any online payment fees for a period of 90 days;
  • Postponing foreclosures for 90 days;
  • Ensuring that mortgagors do not experience a disruption of service if the mortgage servicer closes its office, including making available other avenues for mortgagors to continue to manage their accounts and to make inquiries; and
  • Proactively reaching out to mortgagors via app announcements, text, email or otherwise to explain the above-listed assistance being offered to mortgagors.

In addition to DFI’s issued guidance, the department has also launched a hotline for homeowners in distress: 1-877-RING-DFI (746-4334) to get assistance on how best to contact their mortgage servicer, and to learn more about their options.

DFI has also created a “Coronavirus Support and Assistance” section for homeowners on their website, with some additional resources and an FAQ, which is available at: https://dfi.wa.gov/homeownership


SB 5600 - 14 Day Notice Forms

In 2019, the Washington State Legislature passed and Governor Inslee signed legislation which required landlords to provide notice at least 14 days before initiating an eviction proceeding, and created a new notice form that landlords must send to tenants if they fail to pay rent, utilities or another periodic charge that is agreed to in the lease. The 14-day notice informs tenants of the total financial obligation alleged by the landlord. The Attorney General’s Office translated this 14-day notice into 12 languages commonly-spoken in Washington. Twelve translated notice forms translated can be found below. The Attorney General’s Office collected information for tenants about legal and advocacy resources, including immigrant and cultural organizations where tenants can receive assistance in their primary language. These resources can be found here.