As part of our new landlord/tenant series, we are answering some of your most asked questions. To begin the series, check out what you need to know about security deposits when entering into a tenancy.
1. What must a landlord do before collecting a security deposit in Washington?
To collect a security deposit from a tenant, the landlord must (1) have a written lease or rental agreement with the tenant; and (2) have a written checklist detailing the condition, cleanliness, and any existing damage to the property. You cannot collect a security deposit on an oral lease. RCW 59.18.260.
2. What are the requirements for the written checklist in Washington?
The checklist must detail the condition of all aspects of the property including but not limited to, windows, walls, floors or carpets, countertops, appliances, and furniture. This checklist must be signed and dated by both the landlord and tenant. The landlord must provide a copy of the checklist to the tenant. RCW 59.18.260.
3. Is there a penalty for not providing a written checklist in Washington?
If the landlord does not provide a copy of the checklist to the tenant, the landlord could be liable to the tenant for the full security deposit plus reasonable attorney fees and costs. RCW 59.18.260.
4. How must a landlord store the security deposit in Washington?
Landlords in the state of Washington have three options for storing a tenant’s security deposit: (1) creating a trust account exclusively for tenants’ security deposits and placing the deposit in the trust account; (2) placing the deposit in a state or national financial institution, which includes banks, trust companies, savings and loan associations and credit unions; (3) placing the deposit with an escrow agent who is licensed and located within the state of Washington. RCW 59.18.270.If the deposit is placed in an interest-bearing account, the landlord is entitled to this interest unless the landlord and the tenant agree, in writing, to different terms. RCW 59.18.270.
5. Does a landlord have to give written notice after receiving a security deposit in Washington?
Yes, landlords in Washington must provide tenants with written notice that they have received and deposited the security deposit. The notice must include a written receipt indicating the amount of the security deposit, and the name and address of the institution where the deposit is being held. RCW 59.18.270. If the landlord moves the security deposit to a different institution during the tenancy, the landlord must provide another written notice with the name and address where the deposit is being held. RCW 59.18.270.
Dimension Law Group has experienced attorneys that know the nuances of landlord/tenant and real estate law and are ready to help. If you have any further questions, please contact our office for a free consultation.