House Rental Info.

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    I will soon become a landlord. I will be renting out my house in West Seattle for the first time and need some advice and guidelines, as far as do’s and don’ts. Also what does King County require? Are there forms I must give to potential tenants? Besides the Rental agreements, walk thru forms etc.?
    Any information will be very much appreciated. Thank you.



    Best information that I got from a local attorney (way too late in the game) was not to use a stationary store generic version of a rental agreement.

    Enforce the requirement that the tenant notify you within 3 days of anything needing repair – then take care of it promptly. My last tenant always waited 3 weeks on average after things had gotten way worse and took more/cost more to fix. Don’t allow frequent late payments or constant guests (non-paying roommates). Don’t be afraid to ask your former neighbors if your new tenants are being good neighbors. But stay out of their lives – they are not your friends and this is a business relationship. There are expectations on both sides that need to be fulfilled under the landlord-tenant act and should be covered under your rental agreement. Never let tenants make changes to your property without your advance consent.

    Don’t be afraid (or too cheap) to use a third party to either screen your potential tenants or even manage the day-to-day agreement, even if you are the repairman that they call. My former next door owner at my old condo and the owner of the rental house next door to me now both use agencies for different aspects of their rental activities and highly recommend them as making life more nuisance-free.

    Finally, you DO have to report the rental fees as income. Save ALL of your receipts, keep good records, and get a real accountant who understands real estate rental income for a person who does not rent multiple properties for a living. They will make things far more manageable for you and keep you out of trouble with the IRS.

    Both the city and county have good information on their websites and even the West Seattle Police Precinct and the Seattle Neighborhood Service Centers (where you can pay your utility bills in person) have Landlord-Tenant handout information in their lobby among the public pamphlets.



    Hello Ilovedogs123,

    I love dogs too, along with most other critters that roam our rock.

    For over a decade I’ve been managing several rental properties here in west Seattle AND am familiar with Seattle’s new “First in Time” rules & regulations and can offer assistance to whatever level you’re looking for, please write to me directly if you wish to pursue.

    swimbikeruneat at g mail



    With the changing landscape of landlord-tenant laws in Seattle, you might consider joining the Rental Housing Association of Washington, located in West Seattle. With a membership, you have access to forms, contracts, tenant screening, education, and current information for landlords.



    Definitely get professional advice, lots of laws to comply with. Lots of rules about discrimination, time required to give notice when raising the rent, how to give notice of all sorts of things, when you need to get into the unit, etc., etc. Time for due diligence or this will suck.

    As a long time renter here are a few thoughts
    -don’t allow pets, I like them but it is extra cleaning, deposits, you just don’t need complications
    – don’t allow smoking of any kind
    – make a point of doing a walkthrough on a regular basis. You’ll need to give them fair warning but regular viewing of the property will prevent surprises.
    -be fair with the rent, don’t just do what everyone else is doing. Your tenants will appreciate a reasonable price.
    – create an online payment system. The easier you make it for renters to pay, the better. No one writes checks anymore and alleviates the ‘lost in the mail excuse’.



    I had to become a landlord a few years ago and decided to get professional guidance. I highly recommend Gretchen Bear. I don’t know how I could have survived my first experience being a landlord without her guidance. There is a lot to know about laws, forms, how to screen tenants, etc, that she knows and teaches well. You can find more info at her website

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