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Washington state has the following law regarding the automatic renewal of a rental agreement (link here)

(1) Unless otherwise agreed rental agreements shall be for a term of one year. Any rental agreement of whatever duration shall be automatically renewed for the term of the original rental agreement, unless a different specified term is agreed upon.

My question is about how the above law relates to the following story

For the past year I have rented a house in Seattle. The lease ran from Sept 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021. In July 2021 my landlord asked if I wanted to say another year. I said "yes". They said "Ok sounds good". This was all I heard from the landlord until September 14th (after the end of the previous lease). On September 14th I reminded the landlord that we had not signed a new lease. We ultimately came to a new lease agreement.

However, I am wondering if law (1) cited above, means that my lease automatically renewed for one year on September 1, with the same terms as the previous lease. There is no language in the previous lease which states otherwise.

Thanks for any thoughts.

Edit:

Looks the the above law refers to mobile homes. This is not the situation! It's a normal house. My mistake. So I will adjust my question.

Are there similar statutes about automatic renewal of normal houses (not mobile homes)?

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    Even if the lease did renew on Sep 1, I would think your new agreement on Sep 14 would supersede it. It's generally possible to modify a lease during its term if both parties consent. Sep 16 at 16:18
  • @Nate Eldredge Yes, and section 59.18.650(1)(e) specifically preserves that right. Sep 16 at 17:44
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The link is to RCW 59.20.090 which is a section of Chapter 59.20 RCW, which is the MANUFACTURED/MOBILE HOME LANDLORD-TENANT ACT. It would seem that this law applies only to the rental of mobile homes or mobile home lots. There is a clue to that in the cited section: RCW 59.20.090 (4)(a) reads:

(4)(a) The tenant may terminate the rental agreement upon thirty days written notice whenever a change in the location of the tenant's employment requires a change in his or her residence, and shall not be liable for rental following such termination unless after due diligence and reasonable effort the landlord is not able to rent the mobile home lot at a fair rental. If the landlord is not able to rent the lot, the tenant shall remain liable for the rental specified in the rental agreement until the lot is rented or the original term ends. (Emphasis added)

If the provision had applied, it would seem that a renewal lease at the same rental amount would have been automatically created, but the law does not specifically say that other terms would be unchanged. I have not looked for cases interpreting this law.

Followup: Section RCW 59.20.040 reads:

This chapter shall regulate and determine legal rights, remedies, and obligations arising from any rental agreement between a landlord and a tenant regarding a mobile home lot and including specified amenities within the mobile home park, mobile home park cooperative, or mobile home park subdivision, where the tenant has no ownership interest in the property or in the association which owns the property, whose uses are referred to as a part of the rent structure paid by the tenant. All such rental agreements shall be unenforceable to the extent of any conflict with any provision of this chapter. ...

This section was two clicks away from the page linked in the question, by the way. The contents page which gives the law title was one click away.

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  • Goid spot on the mobile home provision. I don't know enough to offer an answer, but would 59.04.010 and/ 59.04.030 be relevant? app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=59.04
    – Rick
    Sep 16 at 15:51
  • @David thanks for this. I did not realize this law was about mobile homes! My mistake. I was wondering about automatic renewal when it comes to normal houses. I edited my question to reflect this mistake. Sep 16 at 15:54
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    @nicholaswogan anyone can make an error reading statutes, and this one could have been more explicit in the passage you cited. I have not yet checked if there is a similar renewal law in Washington state for house rentals. I think there is in some other US states. Sep 16 at 16:14
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    @Rock ape Chapter 59.04 is by 59.04.900 inspplicable if I read it correctly. That section says: "Chapter inapplicable to rental agreements under landlord-tenant act. This chapter does not apply to any rental agreement included under the provisions of chapter 59.18 RCW." I think that means it applies only to commercial or other non-residential tenancies. Sep 16 at 16:20
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It depends on the previous lease

The Law

The relevant sections of the Washington code seem to be RCW 59.18.220 and RCW 59.18.650

RCW 59.18.220 provides in pertinent part that:

(1) Except as limited under RCW 59.18.650, in cases where premises are rented for a specified time, by express or implied contract, the tenancy shall be deemed expired at the end of such specified time upon notice consistent with RCW 59.18.650, served in a manner consistent with RCW 59.12.040.

(The rest of 220 deals with special exceptions for members of the US armed forces)

RCW 59.18.650 (1) provides in pertinent part that:

(1)(a) A landlord may not evict a tenant, refuse to continue a tenancy, or end a periodic tenancy except for the causes enumerated in subsection (2) of this section and as otherwise provided in this subsection.

(b) If a landlord and tenant enter into a rental agreement that provides for the tenancy to continue for an indefinite period on a month-to-month or periodic basis after the agreement expires, the landlord may not end the tenancy except for the causes enumerated in subsection (2) of this section; however, a landlord may end such a tenancy at the end of the initial period of the rental agreement without cause only if:

(b)(i) At the inception of the tenancy, the landlord and tenant entered into a rental agreement between six and 12 months; and

(b)(ii) The landlord has provided the tenant before the end of the initial lease period at least 60 days' advance written notice ending the tenancy, served in a manner consistent with RCW 59.12.040.

(c) If a landlord and tenant enter into a rental agreement for a specified period in which the tenancy by the terms of the rental agreement does not continue for an indefinite period on a month-to-month or periodic basis after the end of the specified period, the landlord may end such a tenancy without cause upon expiration of the specified period only if:

(c)(i) At the inception of the tenancy, the landlord and tenant entered into a rental agreement of 12 months or more for a specified period, or the landlord and tenant have continuously and without interruption entered into successive rental agreements of six months or more for a specified period since the inception of the tenancy;

(c)(ii) The landlord has provided the tenant before the end of the specified period at least 60 days' advance written notice that the tenancy will be deemed expired at the end of such specified period, served in a manner consistent with RCW 59.12.040; and

(c)(iii) The tenancy has not been for an indefinite period on a month-to-month or periodic basis at any point since the inception of the tenancy. However, for any tenancy of an indefinite period in existence as of May 10, 2021, if the landlord and tenant enter into a rental agreement between May 10, 2021, and three months following the expiration of the governor's proclamation 20-19.6 or any extensions thereof, the landlord may exercise rights under this subsection (1)(c) as if the rental agreement was entered into at the inception of the tenancy provided that the rental agreement is otherwise in accordance with this subsection (1)(c).

(d) For all other tenancies of a specified period not covered under (b) or (c) of this subsection, and for tenancies of an indefinite period on a month-to-month or periodic basis, a landlord may not end the tenancy except for the causes enumerated in subsection (2) of this section. Upon the end date of the tenancy of a specified period, the tenancy becomes a month-to-month tenancy.

(e) Nothing prohibits a landlord and tenant from entering into subsequent lease agreements that are in compliance with the requirements in subsection (2) of this section.

RCW 59.18.650 (2) provides a list of situations allowing a tenancy to be ended early, after various notice periods. none of these fit the situation described in the question, although 650 (2) (k) may be somewhat relevant as to what could have happened.

Analysis

Under these sections, which are part of [chapter 59.18](https://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=59.18}, the "Residential Landlord-Tenant Act of 1973", there seem to be several possibilities, depending on the provisions of the previous lease, but none of them seem to constitute a full automatic renewal. There are also possibilities where there was no lease, or no current lease, but these do not apply to the conditions in the question. As I read the sections, these are:

  • If the lease provided that it would convert to a month-to-month or other periodic tenancy after the end of the lease period, the landlord may end the tenancy only if teh lease was for 6-12 months and the landlord gave 60 days notice (or for one of the causes in 650(2)). This is under 650(1)(b).
  • If the lease does not specify that it continues indefinably or on a periodic basis, the landlord may end the tenancy only if the initial lease was for 12 months or more, or there was a series of leases each for 6-months or more with no gaps, there has not been any period of indefinite or periodic tenancy, and the landlord gives 60 days notice, or for one of the causes in 650(2). This is under 650(1)(c)(i) and 650(1)(c)(ii).
  • A tenancy that was month-to-month during the covid eviction ban, but was converted to a lease within 3 months after the end of the ban, may be treated as having been on lease from its start. This is under 650(1)(c)(iii).
  • Any other tenancy converts to a month-to-month tenancy at the end of any lease, unless the landlord has given proper notice or one of the causes in 650(2) applies. This is under 650(1)(d) and 220.

It is worth noticing that under 650(2)(k) if the landlord offers a new lease at least 30 days before the end of the previous one, and the terms of that new lease are "reasonable", and the tenant fails to sign the new lease but continues in possession after the end of the existing lease, the landlord may end the tenancy.

Note that section 650 provides for various cases in which the landlord "may not end the tenancy" It does not provide that in such cases the previous lease is automatically renewed. It would appear that in such cases a month-to-month tenancy begins, probably at the same rental, but the landlord may later increase rents as in any month-to-month rental.

Conclusion

So the answer to the question:

Are there similar statutes about automatic renewal of normal houses (not mobile homes)?

is: No, but tenants may not be evicted without notice except for serious cause.

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