This Tenant Tip addresses RCW 59.18.550 of the Washington State Residential Landlord Tenant Act (RLTA), clarifying the rights and requirements of tenants living in “drug and alcohol free housing,” including their right to due process in an eviction – also known as an Unlawful Detainer Action (UDA).
Under this section of the law, any tenant who lives in drug and alcohol free housing is entitled to a rental agreement IN WRITING and access to supportive services through recovery programs (i.e. Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous).
In addition, the rental agreement must include the following provisions:
- The tenant and invited guests may not use any illegal substances, controlled substances or prescription drugs without a prescription on the premises.
- The tenant can be required to take a urine analysis test for drug and alcohol at the landlord’s discretion and expense.
- On a quarterly basis (at minimum), the tenant must provide documentation from the recovery program they are participating in to report progress abstaining from drugs and alcohol.
Furthermore, the landlord must provide a drug- and alcohol-free environment for all tenants and an employee who monitors the compliance with program rules.
The following types of entities are considered to be landlords under the RLTA and must provide the specific requirements and services under RCW 59.18.550:
- nonprofit corporations under Title 24 RCW
- for profit corporations under Title 23B RCW
- housing authorities created under Chapter 35.82 RCW which also provide federally assisted housing under Chapter 59.28 RCW
The eviction process is slightly different for tenants living in drug and alcohol free housing. A landlord can terminate tenancy by delivering a three-day notice to the tenant with one day to comply if the tenant uses, possesses or shares alcohol, prescription drugs without a prescription, or illegal substances on the premises. A tenant may be given the three-day notice if their invited guests are participating in such actions as well.
A three-day notice to terminate tenancy with one day to comply gives the tenant one day after receipt of the notice to stop the use of drugs or alcohol and be in compliance. If the tenant complies, the landlord cannot go further with the eviction and the rental agreement does not terminate. If the tenant is not able to comply within one day after receiving the notice – and at the end of the three-day period, if the tenant has not vacated – the landlord can continue with the eviction process by serving a summons for UDA.
Our website lists an eviction timeline, including the court process to physically remove a tenant from the premises. If the tenant violates the same rule within six months of receiving a three-day notice, the landlord can begin the eviction process by issuing another three-day notice without the option for the tenant to comply again. This section provides the same eviction process and timeline during which landlords are allowed to evict a tenant under 59.12 RCW.
Because of the complexity of this information, it will be posted in two parts. In Evictions in Clean & Sober Housing (Part 2), we’ll further address some of the barriers that people living in clean and sober housing face – including the problems a faster eviction process would pose – and how these tenants could benefit from additional protections allowing them to remain in stable housing.
Solid Ground’s Tenant Tips provide general information for Washington state renters. People with specific questions should call our Tenant Services Voice Message Line at the number below. You can also visit our For Tenants webpages at any time where you’ll find a wealth of self-help information.
TENANT SERVICES VOICE MESSAGE LINE
206.694.6767 | TTY: 7.1.1
Solid Ground’s Tenant Counselors meet with tenants by phone. Washington state tenants may call our VOICE MESSAGE line, currently receiving messages Mondays and Thursdays, 10:30am – 1:30pm, except holidays (hours and days may change). Please leave a message with your tenant questions, and we’ll return your call as quickly as possible.
Solid Ground Tenant Services Disclaimer
The information contained in or linked to the Solid Ground Tenant Services website is for informational purposes only. Solid Ground makes no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to its website. Solid Ground cannot act as your attorney, and its staff members are not attorneys. Solid Ground makes no representations, expressed or implied, that the information contained in or linked to its website can or will be used or interpreted in any particular way by any governmental agency or court. As legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.