In Seattle, a landlord may withhold some or all of a renter’s deposit to cover actual damages to a unit, unpaid rent, and other charges owed to the landlord. A landlord must refund the renter’s total security deposit if:
SDCI can issue citations or notices of violation to landlords who do not return the deposit under these circumstances.
Disputes about whether damages are beyond normal “wear and tear” or about the amount charged for damages are decided by the Washington State courts. Nothing in this ordinance prevents a landlord from bringing a case in court against a renter to recover damages and vice versa. Generally, these types of disputes involving amounts no greater than $5,000 are resolved with a small claims suit in King County District Court.
If a landlord collects a deposit, our ordinance requires: