Legal advice for rental property

12 Replies

Hello all! I have a question.

My mom is approaching retirement and is considering downsizing to a smaller place. She has a SFR currently. I brought up the idea of renting it out but she was concerned about all the legal issues that could come up. I was wondering if anyone has a recommendation for someone to talk to about all the legal aspects of renting out a SFR.

She lives in the Seattle area. Any recommendation is great appreciated!

Hire a property manager. They'll take care of legal issues and most other issues, and you'll collect a monthly check.

Interview a bunch of them before hiring one, though - there are lots of bad property managers. Search on BP for how to properly vet a property manager.

@Timothy Chi I would agree with most here that you'd probably be better off contacting and interviewing a few property managers and go from there. They should be able to shield you a bit - although not entirely - from most legal issues regarding tenant and landlord laws and professionally run your rental. You should however vet them carefully and look at what is included in their fees and what other additional fees you may incur, some of the better ones out there include a lot of services within your management fee at not extra cost. If you would like to read an article of how to vet a property manager carefully and what questions to ask, check out this article:

Top 14 Questions for a Property Manager!:

Hope this helps.

I'd advise her to take the tax-free cap gain and sell.

Too much to learn as a one-off.  Seattle is it's 0wn animal as to rules.  If she rents it out for more than 3 years, she'll lose her cap gain exclusion.  One-off, short-term. Bad idea to rent it out IMO.

City of Seattle is definitely it's own beast when it comes to the rental laws. Second the advice to read the post @Ricardo R. referenced. I agree with all of it. We managed a bunch of Seattle properties a few years back and I'm avoiding the City now for several reasons. But, if it's best for you, go the management route. Just take your time and ask all those good questions. And choose someone you like, trust, respect, and want to work with!

I posted a link to the program but it was removed- if you search for "RRIO landlord information session Seattle" it should come up.

Originally posted by @Michael Haas:

That is a city program btw, put on by SDCI and Rental Registration & Inspection Ordinance Program

Washington in general is a very Tenant friendly state, but most of the onerous rules people are referencing are Seattle city regulations, not Washington state. Renton will be a lot easier to stay in compliance in as a landlord vs. Seattle.

Originally posted by @Timothy Chi :

@Megan Shay @Steve Vaughan, thank you for your response (and everyone else). She is actually in Renton, I should have been more specific. Would you say the same goes for Renton as well?

Renton or Seattle doesn't change it for me.  Still a short-term one-off.  Property management, maintenance, tenant relations, etc isn't something I'd want to learn for just that.  The risk is still high with a PM IMO. Most PMs are mediocre at best.  Sell it.

@Timothy Chi that makes sense. From your post, it looked like you're in Renton and she's in Seattle. ;-) In that case, it's simpler. I mean, there are still Washington laws to contend with, but yes, if you hire a manager it's their job to handle all that. It should also be easier to find a manager who will take it on if the property is not within the city limits. I do know a good manger who works on the Eastside. PM me if you'd like his info. He just doesn't work in Seattle, for all those above-mentioned reasons. 

Good luck!