Legal Information: Washington

Washington Housing Laws

December 31, 2021

Who is protected by these housing laws?

Washington’s housing laws protect victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, unlawful harassment, and stalking.1 For the purpose of these housing laws, the definition of unlawful harassment is expanded to also include any request for sexual favors to a tenant or household member in exchange for changing a lease or carrying out the terms of a lease.2

The laws apply to tenants who are victims themselves or to tenants who have a household member who is a victim.1

1 R.C.W. § 59.18.575(1)(a)
2 R.C.W. § 59.18.570(9)



What protections do these housing laws offer victims?

For tenants who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, unlawful harassment, or stalking, or whose household members are victims, Washington’s housing laws provide the following protections to the tenant:

  • You have the right to end (terminate) your lease early without having to pay a penalty if you follow the required steps.1
  • It is illegal for a landlord to discriminate against you by ending your tenancy, not renewing your tenancy, refusing to rent to you, or trying to evict you because:
    • you or your household member is a victim; or
    • you terminated a prior lease based on the protections that these laws offer.​2
  • If you have a protection order that gives you possession of the home and excludes the abuser, you have to right to ask the landlord to change your locks. However, you have to pay for it.3

1 R.C.W. § 59.18.575(1)(b)
2 R.C.W. § 59.18.580(2), (4)
3 R.C.W. § 59.18.585(1)

How recent must the incident of violence, stalking, or harassment be in order to qualify?

You must make the request to terminate the rental agreement, providing the proper notice and required documents, within ninety days of the domestic violence, sexual assault, unlawful harassment, or stalking.1

1 R.C.W. § 59.18.575(1)(b)

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