Warranty of Habitability in Washington

Last Updated: August 18, 2023 by Elizabeth Souza

In Washington, a landlord’s obligation for providing a habitable living space is primarily governed by RCW § 59.18.060. This legal requirement, commonly known as the “implied warranty of habitability”, also outlines the rights of tenants when repairs are not made in a timely manner.

Quick Facts Answer
Landlord Responsibilities Roof/Walls, Cold/Hot Water, Heating, Plumbing, Electrical, Sanitation Facilities, Smoke Detector
Time Limit for Repairs 24 Hours, 3 Days or 10 Days
Tenant Recourse Options
  • Withhold Rent: No
  • Repair & Deduct: Yes, actual cost or 2 month’s rent.

Applicable Dwelling Types in Washington

The implied warranty of habitability in Washington does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are and aren’t included.

Dwelling Type Landlord/Tenant Laws Apply?
Single family Yes
Multi-family Yes
Fraternities/Sororities/Clubs Not addressed
RV parks Not addressed
Mobile home parks Only if person in mobile home is renter, not owner
Condos Not addressed
Hotels/Motels No

Landlord Responsibilities in Washington

The following chart lists possible landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability.  Not all of them are requirements in Washington, as indicated below.

Note: Some of the below items may not be addressed at the state level but may be addressed on a county or city level. Check your local housing codes to see which additional requirements may apply.

Habitability Issue Landlord Responsibility?
Provide windows and doors that are in good repair. Not addressed
Ensure the roof, walls, etc., are completely waterproofed and there are no leaks. Yes
Provide hot and cold running water. Yes
Provide working HVAC equipment. Heat only
Provide working plumbing and electrical wiring/outlets/ lighting. Yes
Provide working gas lines if used for utilities/cooking Not addressed
Provide working sanitation facilities (bathtub/shower, toilet). Yes
Provide a trash can (for trash pickup services). Multi-family units
Ensure that any stairs and railings are safe. Not addressed
Ensure that all floors are in good condition and safe. Yes
Provide fire exits that are usable, safe, and clean. Not addressed
Ensure storage areas, including garages and basements, do not house combustible materials. Not addressed
Provide working smoke detectors Yes
Provide a mailbox. Not addressed
Provide working wiring for one telephone jack. Not addressed
Provide working kitchen appliances. No
Provide a working carbon monoxide detector. Yes
Provide a working washer/dryer. No

Landlords in Washington must maintain their rental property to follow health and safety laws, codes, statutes and ordinances. It is the landlord’s responsibility to keep the common areas of the premises in a safe, clean and sanitary manner to decrease any accidents or fire hazards.

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Landlords are required to keep multi-family rental units free from infestations of pests, rodents, and insects.

Indoor Mold

Landlords are required to give tenants information from the Department of Health about the dangers of indoor mold, and what tenants can do to prevent mold growth.

Repairs, Recourse & Retaliation in Washington

If a rental property is in violation of the implied warranty of habitability in Washington, state laws outline how the repair process works, what tenants can do if repairs aren’t made, and how tenants are protected against retaliating landlords.

Requesting Repairs in Washington

Washington tenants must request repairs by providing the landlord written notice about the issue that needs repair. The notice has to specify the condition in need of repair, the location of the rental property, and (if known) the owner of the building. The notice can be hand-delivered to the landlord or the landlord’s agent, or mailed through first-class mail.

Renter’s Rights if Repairs Aren’t Made in Washington

Washington renters have the right to repairs for a variety of potential issues, including things that impact health and safety. To exercise their right, renters have to give the landlord written notice about the issue that needs fixing and wait 1-10 days for the landlord to begin repairs, depending on the specific issue.

If the issue isn’t fixed by the landlord in a timely way, the renter could end the rental agreement or get a court order for repairs or compensation. The renter usually can’t withhold rent without a court order, but Washington does allow renters to contract for repairs themselves and deduct from the rent, for many issues. Read More

Landlord Retaliation in Washington

It’s illegal for Washington landlords to retaliate with raised rent, increased tenant obligations, reduced services, or eviction against tenants who have taken one of the following protected actions in the past 90 days:

  • Complaints to the government about health and safety violations on the rental property.
  • Attempts to enforce lawful rights given under the law or the lease (for example, giving proper written notice to the landlord about required repairs under Washington’s landlord-tenant act).

The law allows an exception when the landlord can prove a non-retaliatory, good-faith reason for the alleged retaliatory action. For example, a landlord who raises rent proportionately in response to a large increase in property tax is not retaliating, even if a tenant has recently complained about maintenance.