RCW 15.18.063 of the Washington State Residential Landlord-Tenant Act was changed to require landlords to give tenants a receipt when they pay rent in cash. Previously a landlord was only required to provide receipts if the tenant asked for one.
Under the new law, tenants still need to ask for receipts if they pay with methods other than cash, such as check or money order. It is generally a good idea to ask for receipts to be dated and signed or stamped by the landlord or the management company.
You may also want to print out bank statements detailing rent payment and save them along with other documents related to paying rent. By keeping an organized folder with documents related to your tenancy and payment activity, a tenant can better protect themselves from a landlord who may claim that rent was not received on time or is missing.
This issue comes up more often with management companies that have high employee turnover. Additionally, tenants are sometimes faced with having a new property manager claim that a previous manager did not document a rent payment.
Bookkeeping errors can also be reason enough for a landlord or an apartment manager to claim that the tenant may not have paid rent. In these situations, it is much easier to present the landlord with a receipt that proves payment than it is to challenge the bookkeeper. Without proper documentation and receipts, a tenant may have to double pay for previous months’ rent and face unnecessary confrontations with the landlord.
It is also a good idea to save receipts for utility payments, especially where the tenant is provided with a third party utility bill from the landlord. While the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act does not cover utility billing, tenants can still take proactive steps by documenting their payments for utilities. An example of a situation where saving receipts can be helpful is when a utility bill is drastically higher than previous ones.
RCW 15.19.063’s receipt requirement is for any payment the tenant makes to the landlord, which can include paying the landlord for third party utility billing. In some cases the tenant has made no changes to their daily habits, and electricity or water usage has not increased, however the landlord may be asking for a much higher amount in utility payments.
This is especially important in cases where the utility bill increases for the tenant due to a repair issue that the landlord needs to address, such as a leak in water pipes. In these situations having a “paper trail” of receipts and documents may also be helpful. In addition to receipts, tenants can also take proper steps in addressing the repair with the landlord.
The tenant information contained in this article or linked to the Solid Ground Tenant Services website is for informational purposes only. Solid Ground makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to its website. Solid Ground cannot act as your attorney. Solid Ground makes no representations, expressed or implied, that the information contained in or linked to its website can or will be used or interpreted in any particular way by any governmental agency or court. As legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing provided here should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel. Solid Ground Tenant Counselors offer these tenant tips as generalized information for renters. People with specific questions should call our Tenant Services hotline at 206.694.6767 Mondays, Wednesdays & Thursdays between 10:30 am and 4:30 pm.