Move-In Charges

What Is It?

A black man thinking about moving in costs.The City of Seattle limits the amount of money that a landlord can charge a renter to move into a rental unit. Our ordinance regulates security deposits, move-in fees, last month’s rent, and pet deposits. It also allows renters to make these payments in installments.

What It Isn’t

Holding deposits (sometimes called reservation fees) are allowed by state law and regulated under RCW 59.18.253(2). Landlords use holding deposits to take a rental off the market while reviewing a renter’s application. Landlords must return holding deposits if the application is rejected or apply it to the move-in costs if the application is accepted. Landlords must provide a receipt stating terms and conditions if taking a holding deposit.

Rules to Follow

Our ordinance states that:

  • Rental agreements that require deposits must be in writing and must describe the terms and conditions
  • Security deposits are fully refundable
  • Move-in fees are nonrefundable
  • Move-in fees can only be charged for tenant screening or to pay for cleaning the rental unit when the renter moves out
  • The total amount of the security deposit and the move-in fees combined cannot exceed one month’s rent
  • Move-in fees cannot exceed 10 percent of the first month’s rent
  • Pet deposits cannot exceed 25 percent of the first month’s rent

Installment plan requirements:

  • Renters who are moving in with rental agreements for 6 months or longer can choose to pay their deposit, move-in fees, and last month’s rent in 6 equal monthly installments
  • Renters who are moving in with rental agreements that are between 30 days and 6 months can choose to pay their deposit, move-in fees, and last month’s rent in 4 equal monthly installments
  • Month-to-month renters can choose to pay their deposit and move-in fees in 2 equal monthly payments
  • Pet deposits can be made in 3 equal monthly installments
  • Renters and landlords can mutually agree to a different payment plan if it is written into the rental agreement
  • Landlords cannot charge an extra fee or interest or refuse to rent to a tenant who chooses to pay their move-in costs in installments

Read the Code

Construction and Inspections

Nathan Torgelson, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 2000, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 34019, Seattle, WA, 98124-4019
Phone: (206) 684-8600
Phone Alt: Violation Complaint Line: (206) 615-0808
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SDCI issues land use, construction, and trade permits, conducts construction and housing-related inspections, ensures compliance with our codes, and regulates rental rules. SDCI is committed to an antiracist workplace and to addressing racism through our work in the community.