Types of Rental Agreements

It is essential to have a written rental agreement when moving into a rental unit. It is just as essential to understand the terms and conditions before you sign the agreement. Be wary when the landlord does not offer a written rental agreement. A rental agreement is a legally binding contract that establishes the terms between you and your landlord. Without a written agreement, you are considered a month-to-month tenant by verbal agreement.

There are three main types of rental agreements:

  • Term Agreement
    This type of agreement is set for a specific period. The terms and conditions as well as the rent amount cannot change unless by mutual agreement for the duration of the term.  The landlord must offer you a reasonable lease renewal offer 60-90 days prior to the expiration of the rental agreement.  If they have just cause not to renew your lease, they must also give you a notice of  non-renewal 60-90 days prior to when the lease expires and state the facts and just cause to support it.
  • Month-to-Month Agreement
    This type of agreement is just like it states, a month-to-month rental agreement. A landlord has to give one of 16 "just cause" reasons to terminate a month-by-month rental. You can terminate the rental agreement with a minimum of 20 days written notice in advance of the end of the monthly rental period. For example, if you want to move out by March 1, you would need to provide a written notice to your landlord no later than the February 8. You might appreciate the flexibility of this arrangement but be aware that the terms of your rental agreement, including the amount of rent, can change with proper notice during a month-by-month agreement.
  • Agreement that Converts to a Month-to-Month
    This type of agreement is set for a specific period but automatically reverts to a month-by-month agreement at the end. 

Your landlord must provide you with a copy of your rental agreement as well as the Renter's Handbook. You are entitled to one free replacement copy.

Renting in Seattle

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The Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections (SDCI) includes permitting, construction inspections, code compliance and tenant protections, and rental housing registration and inspections.