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New Landlord-Tenant Law in Washington State: Changes to Security Deposits Explained

Hey there! I'm Jason from SJC Management Group, and today I want to talk about a new law that's set to take effect on July 23rd, 2023 in Washington State. This law is going to have a significant impact on landlord-tenant relations, particularly concerning security deposits. It may sound like a minor change at first glance, but as we dive into the details, you'll see why it's crucial for both landlords and tenants to be aware of these alterations.

The Law's Focus: Security Deposits and Normal Wear and Tear Charges

The primary focus of this new law revolves around security deposits. Previously, the standard for what landlords could charge tenants for was limited to damages beyond normal wear and tear. However, the new law introduces a significant shift in the legal landscape. Now, landlords can charge tenants for any damages, including those that might have been considered normal wear and tear under previous regulations. This change may have significant implications in future legal disputes between landlords and tenants.

Documenting Property Condition: The Landlord's Responsibility

The new law places greater emphasis on the importance of documenting a property's condition. As a landlord, it's now crucial to provide a thorough and comprehensive moving condition report. This report should meticulously document every aspect of the home, including the condition of light fixtures, sinks, faucets, and more. Simply stating that everything is in good condition will no longer suffice; detailed documentation is essential to prevent disputes over security deposit deductions down the line.

Increased Timeframe for Sending Deposit Disposition to 30 Days

Another critical aspect of the new law is the extended timeframe for landlords to send deposit dispositions to tenants. In the past, landlords had 14 days (and later 21 days) to provide these dispositions. However, the new law now grants landlords even more time. This additional period allows landlords to use estimates and printouts from the internet to assess damages when returning the security deposit to tenants.

Carpet Cleaning Charges

The new law, effective July 23rd, 2023, brings a significant change to how carpet cleaning charges are handled in security deposit deductions. Landlords can no longer automatically deduct carpet cleaning expenses from a tenant's security deposit. Instead, landlords can only impose this charge if it is explicitly stated in the lease agreement and the tenant fails to fulfill this obligation. This provision aims to safeguard tenants from unwarranted deductions and ensures that they are only held accountable for damages or lease violations explicitly agreed upon in the lease agreement. As tenants gain added protection, landlords must update their lease agreements to reflect this provision and communicate any changes to their tenants.

Transition Period for Existing Leases

It's important to note that the changes brought about by this new law won't immediately apply to all security deposits returned after July 23rd, 2023. If your lease states a 21-day timeframe for deposit returns, that's the timeline you should adhere to until the lease is updated. It will take some time for the new law's requirements to filter through and become the standard practice.


So, there you have it! The upcoming law effective July 23rd, 2023, will undoubtedly impact landlord-tenant relationships, particularly regarding security deposits. As a landlord, it's crucial to be diligent in documenting property conditions and familiarizing yourself with the new guidelines for deposit returns. And for tenants, it's essential to understand your rights and communicate any concerns you may have regarding security deposit deductions.

At SJC Management Group, we strive to stay on top of all the latest developments in landlord-tenant laws to better serve our clients. If you have any questions about this law or any property-related matters, don't hesitate to reach out. We're here to help you navigate these changes and ensure a smooth and fair renting experience for all parties involved. Thanks for tuning in!

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided in this blog post is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The content is based on the speaker's understanding of the new law as of the date mentioned and may not encompass all relevant legal aspects. Laws and regulations can vary by jurisdiction and are subject to change over time. If you have specific legal questions or concerns related to the new law or any other landlord-tenant matters, it is essential to consult with a qualified attorney who can provide tailored advice based on your individual circumstances. SJC Management Group does not offer legal advice through this blog and disclaims any liability arising from reliance on the information presented herein. Always seek professional legal counsel for your specific situation.