A. A landlord may not increase the rent or charge any nonrent charges except in accordance with this section, unless such increase or charge has been agreed to in writing signed by landlord and tenant at the time of entering into the initial lease or rental agreement:
1. A landlord may not increase the rent of a tenant by more than five percent of the rent unless the landlord has provided the tenant with notice of the rent increase at least 120 days before such increase shall take effect. Any rental increase of five percent or less may be served in accordance with state or other applicable law.
a. Pursuant to RCW 58.19.140, if the rental agreement governs a subsidized tenancy where the amount of rent is based on the income of the tenant or circumstances specific to the subsidized household, a landlord shall provide a minimum of thirty days’ prior written notice of an increase in the amount of rent to each affected tenant. An increase in the amount of rent may become effective upon completion of the term of the rental agreement or sooner upon mutual consent.
b. Any notice of a rent increase shall be served in accordance with RCW 59.12.040.
2. Any amount paid to the landlord by the tenant at the commencement of the tenancy charged for the purpose of procuring and obtaining a dwelling unit, including the deposit or as security for performance of the tenant’s obligations in a lease or rental agreement, must not exceed the allowable monthly rent as permitted by this chapter. Any landlord under this section must offer to the tenant prior to entering into the rental agreement the opportunity to pay amounts as deposit or security for performance over six months upon moving into the unit. However, additional security deposits may be added for tenants that have pets; provided, that those deposits are reasonable and do not embed other types of deposits or fees.
3. Any fees for late payment of rent shall not exceed $10.00 per month. No other fees may be charged for late payment of rent, including for the service of any notice required under state law, or any legal costs, including court costs and attorney’s fees, unless such fee is agreed to in writing signed by landlord and tenant at the time of entering into the initial lease or rental agreement.
4. No other fees may be charged in connection with the lease or rental agreement unless such fee is agreed to in writing signed by landlord and tenant at the time of entering into the initial lease or rental agreement; provided, that the landlord may recoup from the tenant actual costs incurred by the landlord and caused by or attributable to the tenant if consistent with the written lease or rental agreement.
B. Installment Payments, Generally. Upon a tenant’s written request, tenants may pay security deposits, nonrefundable move-in fees, and/or last month’s rent in installments as provided herein; except that the tenant cannot elect to pay the security deposit and nonrefundable move-in fees in installments if (1) the total amount of the security deposit and nonrefundable move-in fees does not exceed 25 percent of the first full month’s rent for the tenant’s dwelling unit; and (2) payment of last month’s rent is not required at the inception of the tenancy. Landlords may not impose any fee, charge any interest, or otherwise impose a cost on a tenant because a tenant elects to pay in installments. Installment payments are due at the same time as rent is due. All installment schedules must be in writing, signed by both parties.
C. Fixed-Term Tenancies for Three Months or Longer. For any rental agreement term that establishes a tenancy for three months or longer, the tenant may elect to pay the security deposit, nonrefundable move-in fees, and last month’s rent, excluding any payment made by a tenant to the landlord prior to the inception of tenancy to reimburse the landlord for the cost of obtaining a tenant screening report, in three consecutive, equal monthly installments that begin at the inception of the tenancy.
D. Month-to-Month or Two-Month Tenancy. For any rental agreement term that establishes a tenancy from month-to-month or two months, the tenant may elect to pay the security deposit, nonrefundable move-in fees, and last month’s rent, excluding any payment made by a tenant to the landlord prior to the inception of tenancy to reimburse the landlord for the cost of obtaining a tenant screening report, in two equal installments. The first payment is due at the inception of the tenancy, and the second payment is due on the first day of the second month or period of the tenancy.
E. A tenant’s failure to pay a security deposit, nonrefundable move-in fees, and last month’s rent according to an agreed payment schedule is a breach of the rental agreement and subjects the tenant to a 14-day notice pursuant to RCW 59.12.030(4), and shall mean that the entire amount of any outstanding payments shall become due when the next rent payment is due, unless otherwise agreed to in writing by the landlord and tenant.
F. Paying in installments does not apply to a landlord obtaining a tenant screening report, which report cost paid by the tenant shall be limited to the standard and actual cost of the tenant screening report.
G. No security deposit may be collected by a landlord unless the rental agreement is in writing and a written checklist or statement specifically describing the condition and cleanliness of or existing damages to the premises and furnishings, including, but not limited to, walls, floors, countertops, carpets, drapes, furniture, and appliances, is provided by the landlord to the tenant at the beginning of the tenancy. The checklist or statement shall be signed and dated by the landlord and the tenant, and the tenant shall be provided with a copy of the signed checklist or statement.
H. A landlord must place any required security deposit in a trust account and provide a written receipt and notice of the name, address, and location of the depository and any subsequent change thereof to the tenant, in compliance with the requirements of RCW 59.18.270.
I. Nothing in this chapter prohibits a landlord from bringing an action against a tenant to recover sums exceeding the amount of the tenant’s security deposit for damage to the dwelling unit for which the tenant is responsible. The landlord may seek attorney’s fees for such an action as authorized by Chapter 59.18 RCW.