Return of Your Security Deposit

When you move out, you are must return the rental unit to the same condition you rented it except for "reasonable wear and tear." Reasonable wear and tear naturally occurs over time. Examples are paint fading, scuff marks on linoleum, wear patterns on carpet, etc. Damage, on the other hand, generally occurs more as a result of negligence or abuse. Examples are holes in the wall, broken windows, or burn marks. Your landlord must use the checklist you both signed at the time you moved in to determine if you are responsible for damage to the unit. The landlord is not required to do an exit walk-through with you, but you can ask for one if you think it's useful. It's always a good idea to take pictures of the unit to document the condition you returned it in, including cleanliness. If your landlord charged you for cleaning when you moved in, you cannot be charged for cleaning at move out. If you owe outstanding utility charges, your deposit may be used to cover those.

  • Your landlord has 21 days from your move-out to return your deposit and/or provide you with a statement specifying the basis for retaining only a portion of your deposit.
  • If the landlord needs additional time to get quotes for repair or for a final utility bill to arrive, they must notify you within the 21 day period.
  • Your landlord must consider depreciated value when calculating deductions for damage. As an example, a new carpet with a 10 year life expectancy was installed at a cost of $1,000 and after 5 years you damaged the carpet beyond repair. The landlord could properly charge $500 for the remaining years of use if the damage had not occurred.
  • It's your responsibility to provide your landlord a correct mailing address for your deposit refund. If you do not, the landlord must use your last known mailing address.

Renting in Seattle

Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 2000, Seattle, WA, 98124
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 34019, Seattle, WA, 98124-4019
Phone: (206) 684-5700
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The Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections (SDCI) includes permitting, construction inspections, code compliance and tenant protections, and rental housing registration and inspections.