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. The next post will 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.
The tenant information contained in this article 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. 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 here should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel. .
Please note that Solid Ground Tenant Counselors offer these tenant tips as generalized information for Washington State renters. While we cannot respond to questions via the blog, we can provide advice on Washington state landlord/tenant law via phone. If you live in Washington, please call our Tenant Services message-only line at 206.694.6767 during open hours (M & Th, 10:30am – 1:30pm, PDT) with your questions, and they will respond as soon as possible.