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Landlord tenant dispute-is there a timeline for response?

Seattle, WA |

I am being threatened for a lawsuit due to with holding deposit for damages done to the property. They say that it is normal wear and tear, previously there. I disagree. Is there a timeline for them to persue litigation in Seattle, wa?

If we go to court and they loose are they responsible for my court fees?

Can I add additional items to security deposit itemization as I go along? (I foolishly stopped writing items down because the cost was so high and I figured they knew they did all the damage)?


Attorney Answers 1


If you took a damage deposit then there must have been a written rental contract. Because the contract is in writing, the statute of limitations for a party to bring suit in Washington is six years from the last contact.

If you incur fees and costs, and you win, the court *can* make them pay those fees and costs.

The security deposit statement is supposed to be sent to the tenant at their last known address within 14 days of when the tenants leave. If you needed more time to develop the cost of repairs you are supposed to say that within 14 days. If you all ready did the walk through it is extremely problematic to revise it later to include additional damage for which you want to be compensated.

RCW 59.18.280 is a funny statute, and clearly written by the landlord's lobby. See the last sentence. It says "nothing shall interfere" with the landlord's ability to go after the tenant for damage done to the property. So arguably even if you did not handle the deposit properly, you can still expect to be compensated. But if you are sued in small claims, and you believe that the damage done to your property is going to cost more than $5K to fix, you need to get a lawyer to remove the lawsuit to district court where the jurisdictional limit is $75K so you can sue for what you think they owe you, not just $5K.

Hope this helps. Elizabeth Powell

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