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Tenant Move Out Guide

Washington State RCW Landlord Tenant Law gives landlords up to 14 days after move-out and return of keys to provide a settlement of tenant cleaning and/or damage deposits. tenants must return the keys by law, to indicate that they have moved out, prior to the start of these 14-days.

There are two types of Inspections. A Pre Move-out Inspections and a Move-out Inspection.

Pre Move-out Inspections

A tenant may ask the landlord to inspect the rental unit before the tenancy ends to identify defects or conditions that justify deductions from the tenant’s security deposit. The purpose of this “initial inspection” is to give the tenant an opportunity to repair the defects or do the cleaning identified during the inspection in order to avoid deductions from the tenant’s security deposit. There is NO guarantee that all defects or cleaning issues will be identified until all the furniture, bedding, boxes and personal effects are totally removed. This Pre Move-out Inspection will not guarantee a return of the tenants’ deposit, as this is contingent on the findings of the final move out inspection. The reason that there is no guarantee on Pre Move-out Inspections, is that furniture, boxes and personal effects can hide damages plus at times there may be new damages not seen during an earlier inspection.

The tenant has the right to be present during the inspection. The landlord will generally, but is not required to, perform an initial inspection if the tenant requests it. Landlord will not make an initial inspection unless the tenant requests it. However, the landlord is not required to perform an initial inspection, only a Move-out Inspection after the tenant has moved out per the Washington State RCW Law code.

Scheduling the inspection

When the tenant requests an initial inspection, the landlord and the tenant must try to agree on a mutually convenient date and cannot be scheduled earlier than two weeks before the end of the tenancy or lease term. In any event, the inspection should be scheduled to allow the tenant ample time to perform repairs or do cleaning identified during the initial inspection.206 The landlord must give the tenant at least 48 hours’ advance written notice of the date and time of the inspection whether or not the parties have agreed to a date and time for the inspection.

Final Move-out Inspections

When tenants move out, please observe the following:

We do not wish to keep your deposit. Deposits go to tenants who have successfully observed the following rules and who move out, leaving a clean rental which is considered “Rent Ready”.

    • Legally, you must give your landlord a “20-day written Move out notice prior to the 10th of any given month in which you plan to move out, per RCW Landlord-Tenant Law. This is so your landlord will have enough time to close the file, notify the owner, schedule a time and day for a move-out inspection and arrange for tenant deposit settlement.

*Note: Tenants who give the landlord a move out notice after the 10th of a month in which they plan to move out, will be obligated to pay rent again for the following month, by law. This will be enforced.



  • Deposits are NOT allowed by Law to be used for payment of rent under any circumstances and would be against the Washington State RCW law codes. Deposits are kept in a tenant trust account and are only used to cover minor damages caused by tenants, or losses due to lack of proper cleaning first and then may be used as liquidated damages. Deposits are refundable. Fees are non-refundable in all cases.




  • A move-in/out checklist form is provided prior to any lease being signed, it is a VERY important part of the lease package and tenants are advised to keep this form in a safe place at all times. Tenants are required to leave their rental in the same clean condition as they received it. The Move in/out Form is filled out by the tenant and tells the condition of the rental upon move in, so as to compare with the move-out.




  • DO NOT MOVE IN IF YOUR RENTAL IS NOT CLEAN AND READY TO MOVE INTO. Please see our clean up on move out link to see what we expect when a rental is vacated. If these items are not clean, then we must hire a company to do this for us and your deposit will be affected or lost.




  • If repairs are needed due to tenant neglect or misuse, then the tenant is expected to affect these repairs or these costs will be deducted from the tenant deposit. All maintenance or repair costs which are not covered by the tenant deposit will be billed to them for immediate payment.




  • Fortunately, many tenants leave their rental clean and we are pleased to return their deposit. 🙂




  • For those who do not leave their rental clean, or leave it damaged beyond what the deposit will cover, we are forced to ask the property owner for the funds needed to restore the property to a “Rent Ready” condition. Our policy is to seek legal advice and sue the tenant in a court of law for recovery of these costs. If we cannot collect from a past tenant then we turn their file over to a Collection Agency, whose sole purpose in life is to collect that debt through whatever means is legal, including calling the debtors family, friends, co-workers and employer …plus garnishment of any wages, attachment of bank accounts and tax refunds now and in the future. These things can stay on a persons credit report for up to 10-years.


*IT IS BETTER TO BE KIND BY RETURNING A RENTAL IN THE CONDITION IT WAS RECEIVED. We have past tenants who came in to pay off an old past due account years after a move-out because it showed up on their credit and was used to deny them a purchase.

Ref: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=59.18.130