Tacoma tenants have additional protections under local laws

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project

If you are a tenant (you rent the place where you live) in Tacoma, Washington, new Tacoma laws give you certain rights. This explains the laws. #6319EN

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Washington State law already limits the reasons your landlord can end your tenancy or evict you to a specific list of "good causes." Read Landlords must give a "good" reason to end a tenancy or not renew a lease to learn more.

If you are a renter and your home is within city limits of Tacoma, Washington, you have additional rights:

  • When you apply for an apartment within city limits, your landlord must give you this link: cityoftacoma.org/rentalhousingcode.
  • When they approve your application and offer you a lease, your landlord must give you a copy of the Tacoma Tenant Information Packet.
  • If your landlord gives you a notice to end (to terminate) your tenancy, like a Pay or Vacate notice, they must also give you a copy of the city's "Notice of Resources."
  • You can ask for (you can request) a reasonable accommodation for the landlord to give you any notice in a different format that works better for you. For example, if you need, you can ask your landlord to give you notices with extra-large font.
  • Your landlord cannot evict you without you first having a hearing in front of a commissioner.
  • If you must move from your rental, you might be able to get relocation assistance. It depends on your situation. This assistance is not guaranteed.

No. They do not apply if either of these is true:

  • You live outside city limits. You can check to see if you live inside city limits at govme.org/Common/MyTacoma/MyTacoma.aspx.
  • You are renting from an immediate relative, like your parent or sibling.

Yes, it applies to all landlords inside city limits who meet the definition in the state Residential Landlord Tenant Act at RCW 59.18.030 and 59.18.040.

There are 2 situations when your landlord must give you financial help to move:

  • When the landlord gives you 120 days' notice to end your tenancy and you have a low income.
  • When the City of Tacoma says your rental is condemned. In this situation, your income doesn't matter.

In 2023, you can get up to $2,000 to help you move.

Your landlord must give you 120 days' notice in these situations:

  • The landlord plans to tear down (plans to demolish) the place
  • The landlord is making major repairs or improvements (major renovations) that force you to move
  • The landlord changes the building's use to non-residential, so you cannot live there anymore

In these situations, the landlord must also give you a packet explaining how to apply for relocation assistance. You have 20 days from the date you got the notice and packet to apply. You must have good cause to apply late.

If the relocation is not due to condemnation, your total household income must be at or below half of the median income for a family your size in Pierce County. 

If you believe your household qualifies, you can fill out and submit a Relocation Assistance Packet. Your landlord should have given you this packet along with the 120-day notice to vacate.

If the landlord did not give you this packet, call Tacoma's Customer Support Center at 3-1-1 or (253) 591-5000. The landlord's failure to give you the packet may be a defense against your eviction.

You can submit it, along with copies of any eviction notices and any documents that verify your income,   

The City will let you know by mail within 14 days of getting your application.

Yes. You must file a written appeal with the city's Hearing Examiner within 10 days of getting the City's decision on your eligibility.

It should state why you disagree with the City's decision and what you want.

There will be a hearing. The Hearing Examiner must rule on your appeal within 30 days of getting your hearing request.  

You can file a Petition in Pierce Superior Court. You can read the local law about this at TMC 1.95.080(B)(9)(b).

Our How to Petition for Superior Court Review - Administrative Decision Relating to Public Benefits packet can help give an idea of the process and what your forms should look like. You should also talk to a lawyer.

If you do not have a low income, you cannot get relocation assistance if you get a 120-day notice.

You can read them by visiting the City of Tacoma's website at  cms.cityoftacoma.org/cityclerk/Files/MunicipalCode/Title01-AdministrationAndPersonnel.PDF.

Visit cms.cityoftacoma.org/OEHR/rentalhousing/TenantInformationPacket.pdf to learn more about what information the landlord must give you and when they must give you that info.  

You can visit the Tacoma Landlord-Tenant Program's website at  cityoftacoma.org/government/city_departments/equity_and_human_rights/landlord-tenant_program. You can also call the Tacoma Landlord-Tenant Program at (253) 591-5000.

Get Legal Help

Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help. 

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Last Review and Update: May 03, 2023
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