Skip to main content
13.52.050 Dispute resolution and remedies.
This section is included in your selections.

A. A dispute regarding the amount of charges or other terms and conditions contained in a bill shall be resolved as follows:

1. The tenant must notify the billing entity of the nature of and reason for the dispute by calling the number shown on the bill or by writing a letter to the billing entity within 30 days of receiving the bill. The tenant must have a good faith basis for any such dispute.

2. Within 30 days of receiving notice of a billing dispute, the billing entity must contact the tenant to discuss the dispute, and the billing entity and tenant must determine the amount of disputed and undisputed charges. The tenant must pay all undisputed charges within 30 days of reaching agreement with the billing entity.

3. No late fees or interest charges shall accrue on any disputed portions of a bill while the amount is being resolved in accordance with subsections (A)(1) and (2) of this section, and no collection activity related to the disputed portions of a bill may be instituted against a tenant that has notified the billing entity of a dispute in accordance with this chapter.

4. The tenant and billing entity shall continue to discuss in good faith any remaining disputed amounts and attempt to reach an agreement on the amount due, if any, within 60 days of the billing entity’s receipt of notice of a billing dispute. If a tenant is unable to reach a satisfactory resolution of any portion of a disputed charge within the allotted time, the tenant may exercise any of the remedies set forth in subsection B of this section or any other available remedies; provided, however, that if within 120 days of the billing entity’s receipt of notice of a billing dispute, the tenant has not either exercised one of the remedies set forth in subsection B of this section or paid the remaining disputed amounts, the landlord may exercise any legal or equitable remedies available to it to collect the unpaid amounts; and provided further, that nothing in this subsection shall be construed to deprive a landlord of its right to exercise any legal or equitable remedies available to it against a tenant that has not paid any undisputed charges, has not followed the procedures set forth in this section, or has not exercised good faith in disputing a charge.

B. If a tenant believes that it has been or will be subject to billing practices that violate any provision set forth in this chapter, including the failure to comply with the notice requirements of ACC 13.52.040(A)(3), the tenant may, at its option, file a complaint against the landlord with the hearing examiner or institute a civil action against the landlord, as follows:

1. The hearing examiner is hereby vested with the authority to hear and resolve, in a timely manner, tenant complaints against landlords regarding billing practices in accordance with its rules and procedures then in force governing contested cases. The filing fee for such a case shall be set at $25.00. Upon the finding of a violation of this chapter, the hearing examiner shall award actual damages (including but not limited to refund of any overpayment or other fees or charges resulting from such violation, and costs of pursuing the claim) and a penalty of $100.00, and may permit the tenant to terminate the rental agreement by written notice in accordance with RCW 59.18.090. If the hearing examiner determines that the landlord engaged in prohibited billing practices in deliberate violation of this chapter, the penalty mentioned in the preceding sentence shall also award attorneys’ fees to the tenant. A final order or decision of the hearing examiner may be subject to judicial review in the King County superior court in accordance with the hearing examiner’s rules and procedures.

2. In the alternative, a tenant may institute a civil action against the landlord. Upon a finding that the landlord engaged in billing practices that violate this chapter, the court shall award actual damages (including but not limited to refund of any overpayment of other fees or charges resulting from such violation, and cost of pursuing the claim) and a penalty of $100.00, and may permit the tenant to terminate the rental agreement by written notice in accordance with RCW 59.18.090.

If the court determines that the landlord engaged in prohibited billing practices in deliberate violation of this chapter, the penalty mentioned in the preceding sentence shall be $200.00, and the court shall also award attorneys’ fees to the tenant.

3. No late fees or interest charges shall accrue on any disputed portions of a bill while the amount is being resolved by the hearing examiner or court, and no collection activity or unlawful detainer action alleging default in the payment of rent related to the disputed portions of a bill may be instituted against a tenant that has filed a complaint with the hearing examiner or instituted a civil action in accordance with this chapter while the amount is being resolved by the hearing examiner or court. If the hearing examiner or court resolves the dispute and finds that a tenant that has not acted in good faith in asserting a billing dispute, the hearing examiner or court may order the tenant to pay late fees and/or interest charges on some or all of the disputed portions of the bill.

4. A landlord shall not pass on, charge, or otherwise allocate to tenants, in any manner whatsoever, any damages, fine or penalty (including attorneys’ fees) that the landlord is ordered to pay under this chapter.

C. The existence of an unresolved or pending billing dispute does not relieve a tenant of the tenant’s obligation to pay in a timely fashion all undisputed charges, including those undisputed charges that accrue after the dispute resolution procedures of this chapter have been commenced. (Ord. 6084 § 1, 2007.) (Ord. 6084 § 1, 2007.)

Loading…