It has been 9 days since they have moved out. By washington state law, I am given 14 days to provide them with an answer. They moved out on the 11th of September and wanted us to prorate this month. They did not pay the last month's rent and wanted us to take this out of their security deposit. I told them that the security deposit it not used for the last month's rent. They also have a pet deposit fee and balance owing that they did not pay. They also did not leave a forwarding address. I have now been informed that I do not have to prorate the last month. Is that true? We were able to find new tenants on the 16th of September.
Do I have to return a security deposit letter before I receive the keys or the last month's rent to the house?
You may first want to review your lease and review the tenant’s obligations under the tenancy regarding the refunding of the security deposits. Although each state’s laws are different, typically you would not have to refund the security deposit under these circumstances. However, usually you are also not allowed to profit from the security and if there was no damage to the apartment and the new tenancy started from the 16th then you may be obligated to refund a portion as you may not have sustained a loss of rental income.
Please note, any sound legal advice truly depends on all of the facts of the situation and therefore my “answer” only contemplates the limited information presented. You should consult with an attorney in your state before taking any action.
By James G. Dibbini with James Dibbini & Associates, P.C.
DUI / DWI Attorney
As a landlord, if you receive or take money as security, you must provide a full and specific statement of any basis for keeping portions of the security deposit within 14 days of the tenant’s vacancy/abandonment. The statement should be mailed to last known address – always try to obtain a new address or secondary address (if unknown, send to the last known address, as the tenant should be notifying the post office of any change in address). The bottom line is, always send the notice before your 14 days are up.
If a tenant leaves a lease term early or prior to the end of a rental period, then they may be responsible for payment throughout the end of the lease or rental period. However, as a landlord you have a duty to mitigate damages and find a new tenant. If you have found a new tenant, the rent should be prorated up until the time you were able to get a new tenant in.