ESHB 1647

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

As of March 25, 2013

Title: An act relating to landlord responsibilities regarding keys to leased premises.

Brief Description: Requiring landlords to maintain and safeguard keys to dwelling units.

Sponsors: House Committee on Judiciary (originally sponsored by Representatives Tarleton, Haler, Riccelli, Maxwell, Sawyer, Scott, Bergquist, Farrell, Morrell, Jinkins, Roberts and Pollet).

Brief History: Passed House: 3/04/13, 98-0.

Committee Activity: Financial Institutions, Housing & Insurance: 3/19/13.


Staff: Alison Mendiola (786-7483)

Background: The Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (RLTA) regulates the creation of residential tenancies and the relationship between landlords and tenants of residential dwelling units. RLTA establishes rights and duties of both tenants and landlords, procedures for the parties to enforce their rights, and remedies for violations of the RLTA.

There are a few provisions in RLTA that relate to the issues of locks and keys:

Summary of Bill: Landlords must maintain and safeguard with reasonable care any master key or duplicate keys to the dwelling unit.

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Not requested.

Committee/Commission/Task Force Created: No.

Effective Date: Ninety days after adjournment of session in which bill is passed.

Staff Summary of Public Testimony: PRO: This bill is the result of a criminal case where an onsite maintenance worker brutally attacked a woman after getting a copy of the key to her apartment. The perpetrator is now in prison but there is still a gap in the law; landlords do not have a duty to protect duplicate or master keys. The reasonable care standard is workable. Both the landlords and tenants need to be equally responsible with duplicate keys.

Persons Testifying: PRO: Representative Tartleton, prime sponsor; Dana Widrig, Kristina McKennon, citizens; Tim Seth, WA Landlord Assn.