The Washington House has passed a bill requiring landlords to substantiate damage claims by tenants in order to retain security deposits, according to reports.
The bill also extends the timeline landlords in the State of Washington have to provide documentation showing that they are right in retaining all or part of a tenant’s deposit. That timeline would be extended from 21 days to 30 days.
Additionally, landlords must provide documents or receipts to substantiate damage costs withheld from a tenant’s deposit. It also prohibits landlords from keeping a deposit in certain instances, such as normal wear and tear, or replacement of fixtures, appliances and equipment if the condition of those items was not documented during the tenant’s move-in.
The bill, House Bill 1074, is sponsored by Rep. My-Linh Thai, D-Bellevue, and was passed with a 57-40 vote. It will now head for the Senate.
“Tenants continue to tell us they are being denied deposit refunds due to unsubstantiated damage claims. This bill doesn’t deny landlords the ability to recoup their expenses for damages, it simply ensures fair treatment of renters,” Thai said in a press statement released after the bill passage. “As a landlord myself, this is about setting a precedent for landlords to stop charging tenants thousands of dollars in uncorroborated damages.”
Many lawmakers who also are landlords argued against the bill requiring landlords to substantiate damage claims in order to retain security deposits, including Rep. Andrew Barkis, R-Olympia.
Barkis said amendments were offered that could have gotten the bill to a place that was agreeable to landlords. “The intent of this policy is good — most housing providers are already doing most of everything that’s in here, and with a few tweaks, all could have done this policy better,” he told The Olumpian. But, Barkis said, the power dynamic is shifting out of the landlord’s favor, and “thousands” of rental housing units are being lost.