In Washington State a tenant must consent to a landlord’s reasonable request to enter the rented property (RCW 59.18.150(1)). Under the statute the landlord may enter for the following purposes:
- To inspect the premises,
- To make necessary or agreed repairs, alterations, or improvements,
- To supply necessary or agreed services, or
- To exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers, or contractors
- (Fire officials may seek a search warrant if a landlord or tenant deny them access to search the premise for fire code violations.)
So that leaves it pretty much open as to why a landlord can enter the premise. However, under the same statute, a landlord may not abuse the right of access or use it to harass the tenant (RCW 59.18.150(5)). As a general rule, unless there is an emergency, they must give at least 2 days notice that they intend to enter and when they enter they must do so at reasonable times. When the landlord is planning on showing the home to prospective buyers or tenants they must give 1 day notice of the intent to enter at a specific time. At the same time, a landlord may not unreasonably interfere with a tenant’s enjoyment of the home by excessively exhibiting the home.
This leaves us with two questions:
1. What should a tenant do if a landlord is entering the property without a tenant’s consent or using their right of entry to harass the tenant?
2. What should a landlord do if a tenant is unreasonably withholding consent to enter the property?
The answer is relatively easy in theory:
A landlord or tenant who continues to violate the rights of the tenant or landlord must be served with one written notification which lists the date(s) and time(s) of the violation(s). In other words, a landlord or tenant must basically tell the offending person that they did not fulfill their duty as a landlord or tenant on a specific date. If the offending behavior continues the landlord or tenant is liable for up to one hundred dollars for each violation after receipt of the notice. The prevailing landlord or tenant may recover costs of the suit or arbitration under this section, and may also recover reasonable attorneys’ fees (RCW 59.18.150(7)). One way to make this claim is by taking the issue to small claims court where there are no attorneys.