Skip to main content

Statute of limitations on deposit dispute in WA state?

Seattle, WA |

We moved out of a rental house just over a year ago, and when we did, the landlord did not return our deposit within the required time period. He did finally send a check for a small part of our deposit and an itemized list of "damages", which were ridiculous. He did not do a move-in or move-out check list with us, we left the house in better condition than when we moved in, and he also owes us additional money for child care that we provided. I know that the fact that he didn't return the deposit in a timely way means he forfeits it, so I'm sure we would get the money if we took him to small claims court. For various reasons, it took us a while to decide that we want to pursue this. It has been a year (and a couple weeks). Is there a time limit on this sort of claim, or can we still file?

+ Read More

Attorney answers 1


If there was no walk through checklist, your landlord could not take a deposit from you. See RCW 59 18 260. Did you have a written rental agreement with him? If you had a written agreement then the relevant statute of limitations is six years from when you stopped living there and paying rent. If your rental agreement was not in writing, then arguably the SOL is three years. So on your facts, you have not allowed too much time to pass. The advantage of doing this now is that everybody's memory is still fresh. You might want to read my thoughts on getting deposits back in the Legal Guide section of this site. Hope this helps - Elizabeth Powell