Before using any of this online tenant information, please read these Overview page sections:
- Understanding Landlord-Tenant Law
- Tools for Tenants
- Best Practices & Tips for Renters
Solid Ground Tenant Counselors are not attorneys, and this information should not be considered legal advice. To read specific laws in the Washington State Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, click on the RCW (Revised Code of WA) links throughout this site.
Questions? Contact Us
Before Vacating BACK TO TOP
1) Give your landlord at least 20 days’ written notice.
2) If you prepaid the last month’s rent, ask your landlord to apply it.
3) Leave the unit in the condition you found it in, excluding normal wear & tear.
4) Document the condition of your unit before you vacate & when you first move in.
Abandonment BACK TO TOP
If a tenant abandons a unit, Washington state landlord-tenant law defines abandonment and lays out specific obligations for the landlord to follow in regards to the tenant’s property. RCW 59.18.310 defines abandonment as when a tenant stops paying rent and reasonably indicates to the landlord, through words or actions, that they no longer intend to continue renting the unit. The landlord may claim abandonment if the tenant leaves for some period of time and does not pay rent. The landlord can then enter the unit and remove the tenant’s belongings, but they must hold them in storage and make an attempt to notify the tenant in writing.
If the property is valued at less than $250, the landlord may throw away or sell the items (except personal papers, family pictures and keepsakes) after seven days from the notice of sale or disposal is mailed to the tenant.
If the property is valued at above $250, the landlord may throw away or sell all the items after 45 days if the tenant doesn’t write to claim them. The landlord can use the money to cover the costs of hauling and storing the property and towards any debt the tenant owes them, including back rent money.
Any money left over must be held for the tenant for one year; after that time it becomes the landlord’s money. If the tenant claims the items, it must be in writing and they must pay the cost of hauling and storing the property before they can get the property back. This is a very attractive law for a landlord who does not want to go to court to evict, and it can be abused as a self-help remedy for a landlord. Try to avoid any actions that may give the landlord an opportunity to claim abandonment.
Resources: Vacating BACK TO TOP
- Your Rights as a Tenant in Washington State: Created by Northwest Justice Project
- Washington State Dispute Resolution Centers: Resolution Washington’s website
FAQs: Vacating BACK TO TOP
Q: I am a month-to-month tenant. How much notice am I required to give my landlord before I vacate my unit?
Q: I am a tenant on a lease. How much notice do I have to give in order to vacate my unit?
Q: What happens if I stay in my unit past the day I gave notice I'd be out, or if I vacate in the middle of the month?
Q: If I vacate in the middle of the month, is my landlord required to prorate my rent for me?
Q: I’m a month-to-month tenant. What happens if I only gave 18 days’ notice to vacate – or only gave my landlord verbal notice that I was vacating the unit?
Q: Can I give more than 20 days’ notice to vacate?
Q: Can I take back my notice to vacate if I'm not able to move out?
Q: What if my lease requires that I give more than 20 days’ notice to vacate?
Q: If I'm on a lease, do I still have to give 20 days’ notice to vacate? What about at the end of the lease?
Q: What if I don't leave a forwarding address where my landlord can send my deposit?
Q: In what condition do I have to leave my unit when I vacate? What can I be charged for after I move out?
Q: What can I do if my landlord requires cleaning before I vacate that I believe is above and beyond my legal obligation?
Q: Does the landlord have to do a walk-out inspection with me?