Washington Termination for Nonpayment of Rent and Other Rent Rules

Learn Washington rent rules, including notice landlords must give tenants to raise the rent or end the tenancy for nonpayment of rent.

Updated by , Attorney

Your lease or rental agreement should spell out your landlord's key rent rules, including:

  • the amount of rent (there are no limits to how much a landlord can charge in Washington since there are no communities with rent control in the state)
  • where rent is due (such as by mail to the landlord's business address)
  • when rent is due (including what happens if the rent due date falls on a weekend date or holiday)
  • how rent should be paid (usually check, money order, cash, and/or credit card)
  • the amount of notice landlords must provide to increase rent
  • the amount of any extra fee if your rent check bounces, and
  • the consequences of paying rent late, including late fees and termination of the tenancy.

Washington state law does not cover most of these rent-related issues.

Washington Rules on Late Fees

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 charge a late fee until the rent is more than five days late, but can start assessing the fee as of the first day the rent is overdue. If the tenant pays the rent within five days after the due date, the tenant won't have to pay a late fee.

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).

(Wash. Rev. Code § 59.18.170 (2023).)

Washington's Rules on Bounced Checks

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. If the landlord has to sue the tenant over the bounced check, the court will award the landlord reasonable attorneys' fees plus three times the face amount of the check or $300, whichever is less. (Wash. Rev. Code § 62A.3-515 (2023).)

Amount of Notice Washington Landlords Must Give Tenants to Increase Rent

Washington landlords must give tenants at least 60 days' notice (in writing) to increase rent. (Wash. Rev. Code § 59.18.140(3) (2023).)

Washington landlords must give tenants at least 30 days' notice to change another term of a month-to-month rental agreement. (Wash. Rev. Code § 59.18.140(2) (2023).)

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.

Rent Increases as Retaliation or Discrimination

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. (Wash. Rev. Code §§ 59.18.240, 59.18.250 (2023).)

Washington State Laws on Termination for Nonpayment of Rent

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. If the tenant does not pay rent or move out within the 14 days, the landlord can file for eviction.(Wash. Rev. Code § 59.12.030(3) (2023).)

Washington law requires that landlords provide certain information in the notice to pay rent or quit. For example, the notice must contain a breakdown of amounts owed and contain specific language about how to find legal resources and interpreters. (Wash. Rev. Code § 59.18.057 (2023).)

Washington Landlord-Tenant Law Resources

Visit Washington Law Help for an overview of tenant rights when it comes to paying rent under Washington landlord-tenant law.

See the Laws and Legal Research section of Nolo for advice on finding and reading statutes and court decisions.

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