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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Residential Leases

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Residential LeasesMany individuals purchase residential real estate as a long-term investment. Others rent property as a temporary housing solution or simply to avoid the costs associated with ownership. When this occurs both landlords and tenants enter into a contract1 known as a residential lease. Below are some answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions regarding residential leases. For specific advice regarding your situation, call our office today to talk to an attorney familiar with Washington state law.2

What terms should be included in a residential lease?

A residential lease should address all terms relevant to the agreement, including the description of the property, the length of the lease, the rent that the tenant will pay, any security deposit requested by the landlord, whether pets will be allowed in the property, whether the lease is assignable, remedies for a breach of the agreement, whether the tenant will be responsible for variable costs associated with utilities or repairs, and expectations of tenant conduct. Importantly, some terms may be prohibited by law, so any party to a lease should have the agreement reviewed by an attorney to ensure it is legally enforceable.

Can a landlord terminate a lease in the absence of an early termination clause?

Under some circumstances, a landlord may be able to terminate a lease prior to the expiration of the agreement. These circumstances generally include the nonpayment of rent and the breach of the terms of the lease, in addition to many others. Furthermore, there are certain circumstances that may allow a tenant to terminate a lease early, such as military deployment or a failure to repair an issue within a specific timeframe.

Do I need to have an attorney draft my residential lease?

Many landlords may be tempted to use pre-written “fill-in-the-blank” standard leases available for download on the Internet. While these kinds of leases may be sufficient in many cases, whenever you fail to have an attorney review your agreement you run the risk of missing important omissions or agreeing to unclear terms that may be the basis of a future dispute.

Contact a Seattle real estate lawyer today to discuss your situation

Individuals who are considering entering into a residential real estate lease should have their case reviewed by an attorney prior to signing any paperwork. In many cases, preemptive review of an agreement can mitigate the risk of costly litigation at a later date. For a phone consultation with a Seattle real estate attorney, call the Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess today at 253-572-1000 or by sending us an email at