City of Olympia Law Summary

Posted By: Denise Myers Education, Law,

The Olympia Rental Housing Code was amended 5/15/2024 to create several additional tenant rights in the City of Olympia. This ordinance applies to all tenancies governed by RCW 59.18 (Residential Rentals). In order to enable compliance with these new regulations, we have revised RHAWA’s Rent Increase Form, the Leasing Requirements by Local Jurisdiction document, and Application Criteria Guidelines. Following is a summary of the revised code.

Rent Increase Notification

(OMC 5.82.030)

• At least 180 days for increase of Rent 10% or greater.

• At least 120 days for increase of Rent greater than 5%.

• Per RCW 59.18.140, at least 60 days for increase of Rent 5% or less; and 30 days for any rent increase given to subsidized tenants.

• Notices for rent increases of 5% or less MAY be served per RCW 59.12.040.

• Notices for rent increases greater than 5% MUST be served per RCW 59.12.040.

• Notice of this right must be included in any notice of increase greater than 5%.

• Any notice for increase of Rent greater than 5% must include a rationale for the increase and specific statements about tenant rights to terminate tenancy and request economic displacement assistance (even though assistance is not available unless rent increase is 7% or greater than 12 months prior). The RHAWA Rent increase form includes these required entry fields and statements. 

Economic Displacement Relocation Assistance

(OMC 5.82.040)

• A tenant can make a written request to their landlord for relocation assistance within 45 days after receiving a notice that makes the rent 7% or more higher than it was 12 months previous.

• Within 31 days of receiving such a request, the landlord must pay two and half times rent to the entire household (not to each person).

• If the tenant does not move out prior to the rent increase effective date, they are obligated to pay the increased rent and return any relocation assistance they received.

• The landlord must provide notice to the City of Olympia of any relocation assistance request and/or payment within 30 days. 


• Landlord and tenant living on same site with only one rental unit.

• Owner and tenant sharing the same single-family dwelling.

• Tenants who lived in the rental unit for less than six months.

• Housing that is not governed by 59.18; or subsidized tenancies where the amount of rent is based on tenant income or other specific circumstances, not including Section 8 programs

Pet Damage Deposits

(OMC 5.82.050)

• Pet deposits are limited to 25% of one months rent regardless of when deposit is paid.

• No pet deposit can be charged for assistance animals; or in housing that is not governed by 59.18; or subsidized tenancies where the amount of rent is based on tenant income or other specific circumstances, not including Section 8.

 • If pet occupancy begins at move-in, the deposit must be specified in the rental agreement. If it begins after move-in, the deposit must be included in an addendum to the rental agreement.

• Tenant can elect to pay deposit in three equal monthly installments beginning with pet’s occupancy.

• The full pet deposit less any damage caused by the pet must be returned within 30 days of move-out.

• No other fees or deposits can be charged for a pet. 

Limits to Fees

(OMC 5.82.060)

Any fee must be described in the rental agreement and may not be charged without prior written identification. Fees are limited to the following:

• Application screening per RCW 59.18.257.

• Refundable security deposit OR last month’s rent, not to exceed one month’s rent. (Exception: subsidized tenancies where the amount of rent is based on tenant income or other specific circumstances, not including Section 8.)

• Refundable pet damage deposit as described above.

• Utilities with clear methodology for charges if not based on tenant usage.

• Late rent fee not to exceed $10 per month.

• Cost to repair tenant caused damages per RCW 59.18.180(1) and 59.18. 280.

• Cost for improvements, amenities or other non-essential services requested by tenant, not included in rental agreement. Landlord may offer and charge for non-essential services if the tenant has the right to opt out.

• Cost of bounced check provided by tenant.

• Cost to re-rent abandoned unit per RCW 59.18.310 and OMC 5.82.030(E).

• Landlord may pursue legal fees as authorized by RCW 59.18 and 59.12.

Registration of Rental Units

(OMC 5.82.070)

• All rental units must be registered and renewed upon expiration December 31 of each year. Registration requires the landlord’s mailing address and an annual fee of $35.

• The landlord must provide a copy of tenant’s rights disclosure provided by the City of Olympia at the time a new lease is executed or renewed.

• At each rental unit, or in a common area of a rental property, the landlord must post information regarding the City’s rental housing and safety inspection program.


• Single-family dwelling with shared occupancy by owner and tenant.

• Rental unit occupied by owner’s immediate family member.

• Units not available for rent or subject to RCW 59.18.

Business License Required for Rental Housing Units

(OMC 5.82.080)

• Each and every person making available for rent or renting one or more rental units within the City limits shall, in accordance with Chapter 5.02 OMC, obtain and maintain a business license. One business license covers all of a person’s rental units within the City; however a separate business license is required for any other business operated by such person, in accordance with OMC 5.02.005.

• A Certificate of Compliance with safety standards issued by the City, and a Declaration of Compliance provided by the landlord are required for licensing.

• There is an appeals and reinstatement process for any denial, suspension, or revocation of a landlord’s business license. 


• Renting a single unit located on same property as owner-occupied residence.

• Units not available for rent or subject to RCW 59.18.

Periodic Inspections Required for Rental Properties

(OMC 5.82.090)

• Each rental property must be inspected at the owner’s expense at least once every five years by a qualified rental housing inspector and certificate of inspection must be provided to the City.

   o 1-4 Unit Properties will require inspection of one unit.

   o 5-20 Unit Properties will require inspection of 20% of units up to maximum of four units. 

   o 21+ Unit Properties will require inspection of no more than 20% of units up to maximum of 50.

   o If one or more units fail inspection; or the City receives one or more reports of violation, the City may require inspection of up to 100% of units.

• Owner must provide between 60- and 30-days’ notice of inspection to tenants.

• The City will create an inspection checklist, certification form, notice of failed inspection, tenant notice form, and methodology for selection of units to inspect.

• The City will mail notice of inspection to landlord by Dec. 1, one year before the completed inspection is required.

• The inspector must give notice of any inspection failure to the owner and City within 10 days of the inspection.

• Any appeal must be received in writing by the City manager within 14 days of failed inspection notice.

• Failure to complete inspection on time may result in suspension or revocation of business license.

• OMC 5.82.100: No costs related to this chapter may be passed on to the tenant


• A rental property consisting of a single unit located on same property as owner-occupied residence.

• Units not available for rent or subject to RCW 59.18.

• A rental property that received a certificate of occupancy within the previous 10 years and for which the City has not during that period received any report of any municipal code violation or violations at the rental property or of conditions at the rental property that endanger or impair the health or safety of a tenant.

Other Property Condition Rules 

• OMC 5.82.110: No rent increases permitted if property has one or more defective conditions making the unit uninhabitable.

• OMC 5.82.120: If units are condemned or determined to be unlawful to occupy, landlord will be responsible for relocation assistance up to 3 times rent or $2000, whichever is greater.

• OMC 5.82.130: If low-income tenants are displaced due to demolition, substantial rehabilitation, or change of use, the landlord shall pay relocation assistance.

Right to Install Cooling Devices

(OMC 5.82.140)

• A landlord may not prohibit a tenant from installing or using a portable cooling device (air conditioner or evaporative cooler) in a rental unit.

• A landlord may place restrictions based on a number of unsafe conditions which are detailed in the code, and they can require that the work is completed and serviced by the landlord or their agent.

• The landlord can also require the device is removed from October 1 through April 30.

The chapter ends with a reminder that retaliation is prohibited and a summary of how violations are handled. Daily fines per violation range from $50- $250.

Formal legal advice and review is recommended prior to selection and use of this information. RHAWA does not represent your selection or execution of this information as appropriate for your specific circumstance. The material contained and represented herein, although obtained from reliable sources, is not considered legal advice or to be used as a substitution for legal counsel