Washington Security Deposit Laws

Washington Security Deposit Laws

Author: Kasee Godwin
Date: 02.07.2023

Property owners in the state of Washington are not limited regarding how much they can charge for security deposit. However, there may be local municipalities that do impose limits on the security deposit amount property owners can collect in order to protect themselves from unpaid rents or damages. To learn more about security deposit regulations in the state of Washington, continue reading below.

Is there a limit on how much the property manager/owner can charge for an application fee? If so, what is that amount?

Property owners in the state of Washington may collect an application fee. The amount they can collect is not limited, however, the application fee can be no more than the screening service costs. Property owners must provide a receipt to the applicant showing the actual cost of the screening service.

What is the security deposit amount the landlord can collect?

The state of Washington does not limit the amount of security deposit property owners can collect in order to protect themselves from unpaid rent and damages to their property. Local counties or cities may have limits, and property owners should check at the local level in order to ensure that they are not subject to additional regulations regarding the security deposit amount they can collect. It is important to know that according to Washington state legislation, residents have the right to pay the security deposit and fees in installments. This only applies if the deposit and fees are more than 25% of the monthly rent.

Can the property manager/owner collect a fee for pets?

Yes. Property managers in Washington may collect a pet deposit separate from the apartment security deposit. Service pets are an exemption, and disabled persons with service pets do not have to pay an additional security deposit. However, if a service dog causes damages, the resident is still liable for expenses incurred.

How does the security deposit need to be held?

Property owners operating in the state of Washington must deposit the security deposit in a separate trust account, with a licensed escrow agent, or deposit it in a recognized financial institution within the state.

Is the property manager/owner required to tell the resident where the deposit is held?

Yes. Property owners in the state of Washington must provide residents with written notice telling them where their security deposit is held.

Is the property manager/owner required to tell the resident what the interest rate on the account is (if applicable)?

Property owners in the state of Washington are not required to tell residents what the interest rate on the account is. However, property owners and residents may have a written agreement stating that the interest belongs to the resident.

What can the property manager/owner deduct from the security deposit?

Property owners in the state of Washington may use the security deposit in order to cover unpaid rent, damages cost to the property that exceed normal wear and tear, unpaid utility bills, or restoration resulting from pet damage.

How long does the property manager/owner have to return the security deposit after the lease has ended?

Property owners in the state of Washington have 21 days to return the security deposit, or its remainder, if applicable. The 21 days begin on the day of the lease termination, or when the tenant has vacated the property, the leader of the two. If a resident abandoned the property, the property owner has 21 days from discovery of the abandonment to return the security deposit, or it’s remainder.

What penalties does the property manager/owner face if they do not return the security deposit on time?

A property owner operating in the state of Washington that does not return the security deposits, or its remainder, within the 21 days allotted forfeits their right to claim any portion of the security deposit. Property owners that fail to provide the security deposit in an itemized list of deductions within the allotted time may also be fine double the amount that the security deposit, alongside attorney fees. Residents who do not receive their security deposit or an itemized list of deductions within the allotted time may sue their property owner in small claims court in the state of Washington for up to $5000.

What is the process for the property manager/owner to claim the security deposit funds?

If a property owner in the state of Washington wants to collect the security deposit from a resident, they must specify what they can use the security deposit for in the lease agreement. A written statement of damages and additional costs must be provided to the resident. Property owners in the state of Washington that want to claim a portion of the security deposit must provide an itemized list of deductions via written notice to the vacating residence. The itemized list of damages and deductions must be provided alongside the remaining amount. Property owners can provide the itemized list of deductions by hand or via first class mail. If sending via first class mail, property owners must send it to the vacating residence last known address.

Is the resident allowed to apply their security deposit towards the last month’s rent?

Residents may apply the security deposit towards the last months rent if the property owner agrees to it, and it is written in the lease agreement.

To summarize, property owners in the state of Washington must check with local city regulations in order to ensure there are not additional local limits on how much they can collect for security deposits. Property owners in the state of Washington that want to collect the security deposit must provide the resident with a move in checklist and clearly outline what they may deduct funds for at the end of the rental agreement. The checklist must be dated and signed by the property owner and the resident. the sign checklist will be used in the event that the property owner wishes to claim security deposit funds.

Disclaimer & Sources:

Qira aims to keep this information as up-to-date as possible. The content provided here is for informational purposes and should not replace legal counsel. Please refer to the relevant government sources to check for any changes or updates to the law.


Kasee Godwin

Position: Director of Marketing
Social Networks

Kasee is the Director of Marketing for Qira. She has nearly 15 years of experience in the real estate marketing industry, including 10 years on the client side. In her spare time, she enjoys reading science fiction, exploring new wineries, and fostering Golden Retrievers.

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