Your lease or rental agreement should spell out your landlord's key rent rules, including:
Washington state law does not cover most of these rent-related issues.
Rent is legally due on the date specified in your lease or rental agreement (usually the first of the month). Nonrefundable fees must be described in lease or rental agreement; otherwise, they will be considered to be deposits. Landlords may not impose late fees until the rent is more than five days late. The fee may commence as of the first day the rent is overdue, and landlords may serve a notice to pay rent or quit as soon as the rent is overdue. If tenants can demonstrate in writing that their primary source of income is a regular, monthly source of governmental assistance that is not received until after the date rent is due in the rental agreement, landlords must adjust rental due date (to no more than five days after the date specified in the rental agreement).
Landlords in Washington may charge a bounced check fee of 12% interest plus the cost of collection (not to exceed $40 or the face amount of the check, whichever is less). The landlord must first send the tenant a notice of dishonor, and wait 15 days before imposing the fee.
Washington landlords must give tenants at least 60 days' notice (in writing) to increase rent. Washington landlords must give tenants at least 20 days' notice to change another term of a month-to-month rental agreement. If you have a long-term lease, however, landlords may not increase the rent until the lease ends and a new tenancy begins—unless the lease itself provides for an increase.
Washington landlords may not raise the rent in a discriminatory manner—for example, only for members of a certain race. Also, Washington landlords may not use a rent increase in retaliation against you for exercising a legal right—for example, in response to your legitimate complaint to a local housing agency about a broken heater.
States set specific rules and procedures for ending a tenancy when a tenant has not paid the rent. Washington landlords must give tenants at least 14 days in which to pay the rent or move. The notice must contain a breakdown of amounts owed and contain specific language about how to find legal resources and interpreters. If the tenant does not pay rent or move out within the 14 days, the landlord can file for eviction.
Visit Washington Law Help for an overview of tenant rights when it comes to paying rent under Washington landlord-tenant law.
Here's where to find Washington rent-related rules:
State rent rules and procedures on issues such as raising rent: Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 59.18.200 and 59.18.140.
Washington law on service fees for bounced checks: Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 62A.3-515.
Washington laws on termination for nonpayment of rent: Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 59.12.030(3) and 59.18.057.
See the Laws and Legal Research section of Nolo for advice on finding and reading statutes and court decisions.