Before using any of this online tenant information, please read these Overview page sections:
- Understanding Landlord-Tenant Law
- Tools for Tenants
- Best Practices & Tips for Renters
Solid Ground Tenant Counselors are not attorneys, and this information should not be considered legal advice. To read specific laws in the Washington State Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, click on the RCW (Revised Code of WA) links throughout this site.
Questions? Contact Us
Protecting Your Privacy BACK TO TOP
State law details tenants’ rights to privacy and notice requirements for landlords to enter rental units. Except in the case of emergency or if it is impracticable to do so, landlords must give 48 hours’ written notice to enter your unit, or 24 hours’ notice if they are showing the unit to a new prospective tenant or purchaser. The written notice must specify exact dates and time for entry, or specify a time period, listing the earliest and latest possible times for entry on designated dates. The notice must contain a telephone number for the tenant to reach the landlord in order to object or reschedule the entry.
The landlord can only enter at reasonable times and they cannot abuse their right of access or use it to harass you. The law does not specifically define reasonable times. If the landlord’s proposed notice times don’t work for you, you may decide to offer alternate times that the property is available for inspection. If your unit is up for sale, there may be a lockbox placed on the unit to allow access, but all privacy laws apply to potential purchasers and real estate agents entering the unit.
This law has an enforcement provision written into it. If your landlord violates your privacy rights by entering the unit without giving the proper notice, you can send a letter to the landlord detailing the date and time of the alleged violation. Take a look at our Sample Letter: Notice of Privacy Violation.
It is always a good idea to send letters certified mail and regular postal mail so you can prove that they were sent. Once the landlord receives this letter, you have the right to take the landlord to Small Claims Court to sue for up to $100 per subsequent violation of your notice rights, not including the initial violation (but be aware that taking the landlord to Small Claims Court during your tenancy may create further difficulties for you).
Tenants also must make the unit available for entry when necessary for inspection or repairs, and the law allows landlords to pursue $100 per violation in court after sending a letter detailing the alleged date and time of the tenant’s refusal to let the landlord enter after proper notice has been provided. If the landlord violates your privacy multiple times after the letter has been sent, you can keep a written log of the incidents, including specific times and dates of privacy violations.
Landlord-tenant laws in Washington state do not address or place any restrictions on your landlord’s use of your personal information, but there may be other laws that address this. Speak to an attorney to find out more. You can also pursue legal assistance to find other laws that govern your privacy rights.
Resources: Privacy BACK TO TOP
- Sample Letter: Notice of Privacy Violation
- Resolution Washington: An Association of Dispute Resolution Centers
- Legal Assistance Guide: Created by Solid Ground Tenant Counselors
FAQs: Privacy Rights BACK TO TOP
Q: How much notice am I entitled to before my landlord enters my unit?
Q: Do I have to let my landlord enter the unit?
Q: Does the landlord's notice to enter have to be in writing?
Q: What are “reasonable times” for the landlord to enter?
Q: Can I insist on being present in the unit when the landlord comes in?
Q: Do I have to let the landlord enter specifically on the day and time that they give notice to come?
Q: For what reasons can the landlord legally enter my unit? Does the landlord have to explain their reasons for entry to me?
Q: How often can the landlord enter or inspect my unit?
Q: Do the privacy laws include the landlord coming onto the rental property and not just inside the unit?
Q: Can I refuse my landlord right of entry to my unit?
Q: Can the landlord give me notice that they’re going to enter anytime during the day, or anytime during the week?