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Seattle Property Management How-To: Security Deposits


System - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

 

Landlords in Seattle can run into trouble if they don’t know the security deposit law. Avoiding security deposit disputes with your tenant requires a few important considerations:

 

First, let’s talk about collecting the security deposit.

 
  • Charge a security deposit that is at least the equivalent of one month’s rent. This means if you’re renting a home for $1,400 in Seattle, ask for a $1,400 security deposit. 


  • Before you collect a security deposit from your tenants, the Landlord Tenant Act requires you to have a lease in place that includes a move-in inspection condition report. 


  • Your lease also gives you the opportunity to outline specifically what you will use the security deposit for at the end of the tenancy and what the tenant will have to do to get the full deposit back. For example, you can require that the carpets are professionally cleaned before move out. If the lease stipulates this requirement and your tenant doesn’t comply, you can withhold the cost of carpet cleaning from the deposit.


  • Always put security deposit funds into a separate trust account. You cannot have your money mingling with your tenant’s money. Include information in the lease on which bank you will keep the security deposit. In Washington State, you are not required to pay any interest on the security deposit to your tenants. 

 

Next, You Need to Know How to Return the Security Deposit

 
  • You are legally required to return your tenant’s security deposit within 14 days of move out. You must also provide a written explanation of what is being withheld and why. 


  • You can deduct for any damages outside of normal wear and tear. This is why it’s important to stipulate in your lease how you expect to have the property returned to you. 


  • Document the property’s condition at the time of move in and move out. Take video, pictures and detailed notes demonstrating what the home looked like when you turned the keys over to your tenant and what the home looked like when you got those keys back.


The Seattle Landlord Tenant Act is detailed when it comes to collecting and returning security deposits. Working with a professional property manager allows you to leave your property in the capable and professional hands of experts who stay current on all landlord and tenant laws and can ensure you are doing everything right.


If you have any questions about security deposits, or you’d like more information on how they pertain to your own rental property, please contact us at Dave Poletti & Associates.

 


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