Information for Renters

New laws in Burien are in place to help you navigate the relationship with your landlord. Here’s what these new laws mean for you.

Just cause eviction

In Burien, landlords must have at least one "just cause reason" if they want to end your rental agreement. Your landlord must give you a written notice commonly called a "Notice to Terminate Tenancy" and state the specific just cause. The amount of advance notice depends on the specific just cause reason. In general, the notice period is 20 days before the end of a rental period unless otherwise stated below. You can always contact the City of Burien at renting@burienwa.gov for help to make sure a termination notice is valid and correct.

The just cause reasons your landlord can use to end your rental agreement are:

  • You fail to comply with a 14-day notice to pay rent or vacate; you fail to comply with a 10 day notice to comply with a condition of your lease (such as not subletting, for example); or you fail to comply with a 3-day notice to stop certain activity such as drug-related activity
  • "Habitual failure": you receive four or more 14-day pay or vacate notices in the most recent 12-month period for late rent; or you receive 3 or more 10-day notices to comply with terms of the lease in the most recent 12-month period.
  • You fail to comply with a 10-day notice to comply with duties required by state, such as properly disposing of garbage and using gas and electrical appliances correctly.
  • Your landlord or a member of their immediate family needs to move into your unit. This requires a 90-day notice.
  • Your landlord wants to sell the unit you rent. This requires a 90-day notice.
  • Your occupancy of a unit depends on being employed on the property and your employment is terminated. This would typically apply to property managers who live on site.
  • Your landlord wants to do substantial rehabilitation of the building, demolish it, or change it to a non-residential use. This requires the landlord give 120-day notice. The landlord must obtain at least one permit necessary for the rehabilitation or demolition before terminating the tenancy, or change the use prior to terminating the tenancy.
  • Your landlord rents a portion of their own home or an accessory dwelling unit to their own home and no longer wishes to share with you.
  • Your landlord receives a notice of violation for an unauthorized housing unit not permitted in the zone where it is located, commonly called an "illegal unit," and has to discontinue renting your unit.
  • Your landlord has to reduce the number of renters in a dwelling unit to comply with the legal limit. This requires a 30-day notice.
  • Your landlord is issued an emergency order by the City to vacate and close your housing unit due to hazardous conditions. This is commonly referred to as “red-tagging.” The notice requirement depends on the specific circumstances of the emergency, but it is always a very short period of time.
  • Your landlord issues you a notice for engaging in criminal activity on the property. The landlord must specify the crime and facts supporting the allegation in the notice of termination and provide a copy to the City.

Fees and payments

  • You have a right to pay your move-in costs and your last month's rent in installments. Just get it in writing and make sure you both date and sign it!
  • Your landlord must place your security deposit in a trust account and provide a written receipt noting the name, address, and location of the depository.
  • You can be asked pay the cost of a tenant screening report.
  • No security deposit may be collected by a landlord unless the rental agreement is in writing and includes a written checklist or statement specifically describing the condition and cleanliness of or existing damages to the premises and furnishings. The checklist or statement must be signed and dated by you and the landlord you shall be provided with a copy of the signed checklist or statement.

Get it in writing!

  • All payment installment schedules must be in writing and signed by both landlord and tenant.
  • No security deposit can be collected unless the rental agreement is in writing and a written checklist or statement specifically describing the condition and cleanliness of or existing damages to the premises is provided by the landlord to the tenant at the beginning of the tenancy. The landlord must provide the tenant a copy of the checklist or statement, signed and dated by both parties.
  • The landlord must provide an information packet prepared by the City of Burien for both new and renewed rental agreements. The landlord is required to get your signature confirming you received the packet.

Need assistance?

Contact the City of Burien at renting@burienwa.gov with questions. See below for other free or low cost resources.