Learn more about your tenants right in Tacoma ( Pierce County)

Tenants rights in Tacoma are pretty non-existent and most of the time, what shouldn’t fall on you, meaning be your problem, often does become your problem and you realize morals are thrown out the window when it comes to what’s right and wrong between tenants and landlords.

Tenants and landlord disputes over time.

  • A bad door with a worse off deadbolt and you put in numerous requests to get it looked at, your landlord complies but doesn’t do much to fix the problem. The deadbolt jams and the landlord will try to charge you for repair for the damage you had to do to get out of your apartment.
  • Security deposits are another common dispute. You move out expecting at least some of your deposit back or most and you get a huge chunk taking out of it. Even if you haven’t lived in the apartment long enough to call it home.
  • Another is landlords taking their time with refund deposits because no tenant wants to go to small claims court, that doesn’t guarantee them paying right away, and it takes time away from priorities like work. ( Landlords have 14 days to return deposits or send an itemized statement telling you why they’re keeping your deposit.)

But if you have to end up suing your landlord, what kind of lawyers or attorneys can you go with?

Hot Tip: Most lawyers will have their services advertise on their website or attorney profiles, so you can expect that a DUI lawyer in Tacoma won’t handle your dispute with your landlord unless advertised otherwise. In most cases, lawyers tend to have experience in areas of practice that are similar, such as family divorce lawyers might also work on bitter custody disputes.  For lawyers that handle tenant/landlord disputes, visit our service page for a list of Tacoma lawyers.

So how can you file a landlord-tenant complaint? There is no official component meaning an official group or government entity that will enforce  your rights, however, you can seek legal help and there are other non-profit organizations that can help you.

Different law compliance for tenants and landlords in Tacoma.

City of Tacoma noise ordinance: Be respectful of your neighbors and those around you, it is common sense especially in apartment buildings where walls can be super thin and you literally have someone above or below you. Often when we think that our neighbor can’t hear us, often they can, especially if we are yelling, arguing, stomping and among those lines.

If you’re looking to make a complaint, please call the Tacoma police non-emergency number 253-798-4721. Do not call 911 unless you believe it is life-threatening such as a domestic violence call. Don’t confront your neighbor if you think there will be a confrontation.

What are your tenant rights in Tacoma under Pierce County? 

Again, Tacoma rights for tenants are confusing and often we feel as tenants that we have no help when it comes to our rights  So we will help you navigate your rights as much as possible and hopefully, you find the following information useful.

A personal story of how tenant rights lack in Tacoma.

Around April this year (2018) tenants were forced to find other housing within 20 days so the new owners could renovate and up the rent. One of our writers also went through the same thing with the Heathercourt apartments in Parkland, everyone was given 20 days to find a place and she moved before she could get her notice, luckily for her savings, however, for many, there are no savings and 20 days terminated lease notices are not long enough to find a place.

She started her search months before because she also had a 9-year-old child and found a place just two weeks before the building that she was in got their 20-day notices to move and that was around April of 2017. Since every tenant operated under a month to month lease, those notices were legal and there was nothing the tenants could do.

This time around, the tenants of the Tiki apartments got 20-day notices and again it seemed that owners were going to get away with kicking out residents without repercussions. However, one of the residents reached out to the news station and people rallied behind to get the city to step in, which eventually, led to the 20-day notices to be extended to 90-day notices. But even that isn’t enough to combat the ever-growing housing crisis in Pierce County and it continues to get worse for tenants that feel as if they have no rights.

So what are some of the limited rights that you have?

Repairs: When a tenant provides written notice of repairs, the landlord has to follow timeframes to start repairs. 24hours were the repair affects the tenants hot or cold water, heat, electricity, or imminently hazard. 72 hours when it affects the use of refrigerator, range and over, or a major plumbing fixture. 10 days for other cases. 

Entering a rental unit? A landlord must give 2-day notice (48hrs) must be given before a landlord or anyone on staff can enter your apartment.  And it must be within a reasonable time. 1 day notice when showing the unit to existing or possible new tenants. No notice if an emergency or case of abandonment.

Eviction notice: A landlord cannot change the locks during the process of an eviction nor can he/she harass you. Even if behind in rent, a landlord cannot lock a tenant out, change the locks, add new locks or keep the tenant from entering. Nor can a landlord turn off utilities other than to make repairs. 

Terminating residency? For month-to-month agreements a landlord does not need a reason to ask you to move, a written notice before 20days of the end of the rental date will be legal and you’ll need to abide. For leases 6,9,12 months landlords need a reason to ask you to move out of their unit. 

If you’re on section 8, a federally subsidized housing program or on other housing, you have additional rights. Call the program number that you’re on for more information or call  CLEAR at 1-888-201-1014.

For more information on tenants rights and landlord rights, visit here.

Other tenant tips and ideas that you can take for your rights.

If you’re living month-to-month and worry about your rights, make sure to stay up to date about what’s going on in the city and which bills are being passed, if possible become involving rallying about tenant rights in Tacoma, as mentioned above, because the Tiki Apartments got news coverage, the housing problem became spotlight lighted.

If you’re having to search for another apartment, check for low-income housing in places you wouldn’t think about like downtown Tacoma, and as soon as you hear about new owners taking over your complex, stay in the loop about what’s going on.

Keep in mind that month-to-month is just that. You’re renting on a month by month basis, there is no lease to protect you from a change like new owners deciding they want to up the rent and renovate the unit. If possible have a savings account you can add to every month even if it’s just a little amount at a time.

When should you speak with a lawyer?

If you feel that your rights are being violated within reason and after checking out the laws about tenants rights, then you should speak with a lawyer or non-profit organization that helps with tenant and landlord disputes.

A landlord cannot retaliate for whatever reason and if you feel that a landlord is abusing their power especially after you exercise your rights then we recommend speaking with a lawyer soon as possible.

A great example is the following…

Examples of retaliation:


Tenant reported a big hole in their roof to the City.  The City notifies the landlord that they are going to inspect the unit.  The landlord then raises the rent.


Tenant properly notifies the landlord that they are deducting costs for repairs from rent.  After the landlord gets this notice, s/he has the heat shut off.  The heat is unrelated to the repairs requested.

You find the rest of the example and what to do here.

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