The landlord may charge you for damages that cost more than the amount of your deposit. RCW 59.18.060 states that a landlord cannot be held responsible for the cost of damages caused by tenants or their guests. You can dispute these charges if the damage already existed or was not caused by you or your guests. Tenants can still ask for a refund of their deposit if the landlord did not receive a written response within 21 days or if they did not prepare a written checklist when they moved in. The law does not prohibit a landlord from asserting claims for damages. For more information on how to dispute a homeowner`s debt, see Washington Law Help`s Debtor Rights: Dealing with Collection Agencies. Tenants may be entitled to a refund of their deposits, as well as reasonable court and attorney fees, if landlords do not include a written checklist. RCW 59.18.280 states that the landlord has 21 days from the time the lease ends and the tenant leaves the dwelling to mark the return of the deposit or a written statement explaining why part of the deposit has been withheld. Correspondence must be stamped before the 21st day. The landlord must send the letter or deposit check to the forwarding address you provided or to your last known address (usually the property you just left). If they do not refund the money from the deposit or an explanation of why it will be withheld within that period, they have waived their right to withhold the deposit. New owner liability: If the rental property is sold while the lease exists, the buyer inherits the previous owner`s obligation to refund the tenant`s deposit upon termination of the lease.
The original owner must transfer the deposit to the buyer when ownership is transferred. The buyer is responsible for providing the tenant with notice of where and how the deposit will be kept. Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only. If you need additional help or clarification on bail laws, please consider hiring a property management company or a reputable lawyer in Washington. In the event of damage to the rental unit, it goes without saying that the damage must go beyond normal wear and tear. For example, a broken dryer due to mistreatment of tenants, broken cabinet doors and/or deep wear and tear on walls and floors. If a landlord does not include this written checklist in Washington State, they may have to refund the full amount of the deposit to the tenant in addition to other penalties. These conditions include the reasons why the landlord may withhold all or part of a tenant`s deposit. Like the checklist, it must be signed by both parties. Failure to return the deposit as required: If the landlord refuses or does not return the deposit within 21 days or provides a list of deductions, the landlord  loses any right to withhold a portion of the deposit and may be required to pay the deposit plus double  amount withheld by the landlord, litigation costs and attorneys` fees.
The tenant can sue the surety in Small Claims Court in Washington up to a maximum of $5,000. In doing so, the landlord must send the tenant a written notice of the name and address of the place where the tenant`s deposit will be deposited. If the landlord transfers the deposit to another institution, they must also send the tenant another written notice with the details of the deposit. If a tenant`s security deposit doesn`t cover the amount of money a landlord owes, the landlord can sue to claim the full amount. The Washington State Landlord and Tenant Act offers landlords three ways to deposit a tenant`s security deposit. With the first option, the landlord can file a tenant`s deposit with a trustee. The agent must be licensed and located in Washington State. Typically, one month`s rent matches and is intended to protect you from financial losses that can occur in various rental scenarios. Examples include the tenant`s refusal to pay rent, abandonment, excessive damage, and the tenant`s failure to pay utility bills at the time of moving. Washington doesn`t set a limit on the amount landlords can charge tenants as a security deposit. They are free to charge $1 or $1 million. Luckily for renters, the market demands what`s reasonable, and most landlords charge between one and two months` rent.
Under Washington`s landlord-tenant laws, if you wrongly withhold the tenant`s security deposit, you may be subject to several penalties, including payment of their attorneys` fees as well as double the original amount. This is not necessary in Washington. However, the tenant and landlord must sign a written checklist detailing the condition of the rental unit before the landlord repays the deposit, so a comprehensive solution may be helpful in confirming any necessary repairs. While not required by law, most (if not all) Washington landlords require a deposit from their tenants. RCW 59.18.285 states that the fee must be specifically designated as non-refundable and cannot be considered a security deposit. By law, deposits are refundable in nature. If your landlord states that a portion of the deposit is non-refundable when you move in, or if no fee is explicitly designated as non-refundable in the lease, the fee should be treated as a refundable security deposit. If the landlord charges you a non-refundable fee and doesn`t provide you with a written rental agreement, the landlord will be responsible for reimbursing the non-refundable fee. While there is no specific law requiring landlords to provide receipts for contractors` fees or parts for repairs deducted from your security deposit, tenants still have the right to claim. However, the landlord must provide the tenant with a specific statement as to what the money in the deposit was used for in accordance with RCW 59.18.280. The declaration cannot be a general lump sum or simply state “no refund”. In general, the landlord cannot demand that you lose your entire deposit.
The lease cannot contain a provision that automatically loses a deposit for a breach of the lease. (Note that for a lease that ends with its term, such as a one-year lease, neither party needs to be terminated.) Often, it is stated in a lease that the tenant forgoes the refund of their deposit if they do not respect the correct 20-day notice when they leave the unit. This wording may be an unlawful waiver of your rights under the Landlord and Tenant Act.