Washington Security Deposit Laws
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed May 22, 2019
Rental property security deposits are often a source of friction between landlords and tenants. The landlord wants a security deposit to ensure that the tenant fulfills their obligation to pay rent and doesn't unduly damage the rental property. The tenant, of course, doesn't want to pay a security deposit, but if they do, they'll want all of it back at the end of the tenancy and in a timely manner.
The state of Washington doesn't limit the amount of security deposit that can be collected, but some municipalities do. It's worth checking with your city government for local ordinances regarding security deposits, because they have specific requirements.
If a landlord does collect a security deposit, Washington requires that it be specified in a rental agreement. The agreement must state the terms and conditions regarding the retention of any portion of the deposit at the termination of the rental agreement. In addition to a written rental agreement, Washington requires a written checklist that states the condition of the property and its cleanliness at the time of move-in.
Learn more about Washington's security deposit laws, including the maximum amount a landlord may require, and rules for storing the deposits, in the sections below.
Washington Security Deposit Laws: The Basics
If you're wondering if or when you'll get your security deposit back from your last apartment, you may want to know what the law requires, but you probably don't want to wade through legal statutes. To help guide your research, we've summarized the relevant laws for you in the table below.
Washington Revised Code, Title 59:
Security Deposit Maximum
Washington doesn't have a maximum amount that can be collected as a security deposit. However, local city ordinances may limit security deposit amounts. For instance, Seattle city ordinance 7.24.035 prohibits security deposits that exceed the first full month's rent.
Rules Regarding Security Deposits
Storage of Security Deposit
Basis of Retention of Security Deposit
Within 21 days after the termination of the rental agreement, the landlord must provide a statement as to the basis for retaining any portion of the security deposit and refund any amount due the tenant.
Tenant Action for Nonpayment of Deposit
Landlords may not include any nonrefundable fees as part of the security deposit. Any such nonrefundable amounts are required to clearly specified in the rental agreement.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Research the Law
- Washington Law - Summaries of select state laws covering a wide variety of practice areas, including family, criminal, small business, injury, and consumer law.
- Official State Codes - Links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and DC.
Washington Security Deposit Laws: Related Resources
- Security Deposit FAQ
- What Can a Landlord Deduct From a Security Deposit for Cleaning and Repairs?
- The Difference Between Last Month's Rent and a Security Deposit
Having Trouble With Your Security Deposit? Get Help From a Washington Attorney
Landlords are required to abide by Washington security deposit laws, including the timely return of what's owed. While sometimes simply contacting your landlord can clear up misunderstandings or mistakes, you may need to exercise your legal options. Find out more about these options today by contacting an experienced Washington landlord-tenant law attorney near you.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
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