What Deposits can the landlord collect at the beginning of my tenancy?
The Landlord can collect different deposits and fees for different reasons: A SECURITY DEPOSIT is collected to indemnify Landlord for any damages to the property because of tenant's failure to comply with the rental agreement. A DAMAGE DEPOSIT is collected by the landlord for any physical damage to the property cause by tenant in excess of normal wear and tear. A HOLDING DEPOSIT is collected after a unit is offered the tenant, to reserve the unit for the tenant. There must be a written receipt describing its refundability. There are NO restrictions on the amount of the deposit that a Landlord may collect. a month to month tenant by giving 30 days written notice of such increase. 59.18.140
What are not considered deposits?
An Application fee is NOT a deposit. It may be charged for obtaining background information on a tenant, A NON_REFUNDABLE CLEANING FEE is is not a deposit. A Tenant who has paid a non-refundable cleaning fee may not be charged for normal cleaning. FIRST AND LAST MONTHS RENT is not a deposit: It is considered prepayment of rent and becomes the property of the landlord at the time it is paid. 59.18.257, 59.18.285 .RCW 59.18.130(9)
What requirements must a landlord follow in order to collect a Deposit?
In order to collect a security of damage deposit, the landlord must follow the requirements of RCW 59.18.270. A) WRITTEN LEASE: Must be a written lease that includes terms under which a deposit may be withheld. B) WRITTEN CHECKLIST: The Landlord must provide the tenant at the beginning of tenancy a checklist describing the condition of the premises. The checklist must be signed and dated by the Landlord and the tenant must receive a copy. C) KEEP IN TRUST ACCOUNT: A landlord must place any security or damage deposit into a trust account. The account must be maintained by the landlord for the sole purpose of holding such deposits for his tenants. The trust account may be with a bank or licensed escrow agent located in Washington. D) PROVIDE RECEIPT TO TENANT: The landlord shall provide the tenant with a written receipt for any deposit. He must also provide written notice of the name address and location of the depository.
What if a new landlord replaces the old landlord during my tenancy?
If, during a tenancy, the status of landlord is transferred to another, any deposits in the trust account must be transferred to an equivalent trust account of the new landlord. The new landlord must notify the tenant of the transfer and of the name, address, and location of the new trust account. RCW 59.18.270.
What happens to the deposit at the end of the tenancy?
At the conclusion of the tenancy, one of two things must happen. The Landlord must either 1) REFUND the deposit within 14 days 2) RETAIN all or part of the deposit by following the proper legal requirements. The landlord may retain a damage/security deposit to only to repair conditions in excess of normal wear and tear. This means that no portion of any deposit shall be withheld on account of normal wear resulting from ordinary use of the premises. RCW 59.18.270
What procedural requirements must a landlord follow in order to retain the security/damage deposit?
If the landlord seeks to retain part or all the deposit, he must send a written statement to the tenant specifying the basis for retaining the deposit. If the landlord retains only some of the deposit, the refunded portion must be sent with the statement.
The statement must be sent to the tenant within 14 days after the tenant vacates the unit. The notice shall be delivered to the tenant personally or by mail to his or her last known address. The landlord complies if the required statement and/or payment are deposited in the US mail within fourteen days. RCW 59.18.280.
What are the tenant's remedies if the landlord does not follow the procedure?
If the landlord fails to send the statement and/or refund within 14 day, he is liable to the tenant for the full amount of the deposit. In any action brought by the tenant to recover the deposit, the landlord is barred from asserting any claims for retaining the deposit unless he shows that A) circumstances beyond his control prevented him from providing the statement within fourteen days or B) that the tenant abandoned the premises.
What damages may a tenant seek for landlord's failure to refund the deposit or provide a statement?
The court may, in its discretion, award up to two times the amount of the deposit if he concludes that the landlord intentionally refused to refund the deposit or send the statement. In any action brought by the tenant to recover the deposit, the prevailing party will be be also entitled to the cost of suit and reasonable attorney's fee. RCW 59.18.280,
NOTE: The tenant's claim to his deposit is prior to that of any creditor of the landlord, including a bankruptcy trustee.
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