The Washington State Property Management Law as Applied to Real Estate Licensees has changed twice in the past two years. First the State tried the "one law fits all" approach but it proved to include a process that was too difficult to manage.
A real estate brokerage in Washington is now known as a Firm. A Firm can decide if they want to provide property management services and/or selling and listing services. If they choose to do property management, they must have a trust account.
Property management places duties on the licensee to both the landlord and to the tenant. Among other obligations, the landlord is owed the duty of striving for profitability, the accounting of funds in collecting of rents and disbursement for maintenance and repairs, showing properties and securing tenants, making mortgage, tax, and utility payments, and in dealing with tenant problems. To the tenant the licensee owes the duty of providing a safe environment, and of seeing that the terms of the rental agreement are fulfilled by the landlord.
It was ruled, that since all licensees are managed by their broker for real estate activities, and because property management is a real estate activity, all agents managing property, including their own owned property must account for all finances through their Firms trust account. Firm owners and designated brokers objected and the law was changed.
Now, licensees may manage their own owned properties by keeping a separate trust account, but, in all dealings with their tenants they must exclude the Firm name and any mention that they are in fact a real estate broker.
It's confusing to say the least, for the licensees and for landlords and tenants.
If you are a licensee and your broker does not have a trust account for property management, you may not collect or disburse funds, or show property to or for a client.
If you are a licensee and own rental property, you must not give your tenants your real esate business card, nor should you have them meet you or deliver rents to your office. Your letters and emails to them should not have your Firm name included. This seems contrary to disclosure laws, but that is the way the State of Washington wants it.
If you've purchased a property as in investment, you should ask your realtor first if he is allowed to do property management, before asking him to engage in any actions which may be prohibited..
Good luck to all of us. Let it be further said, that I am not an attorney in any state. If you have questions, ask your designated broker.