It is no secret that the rental market in general is booming right now, but in particular there are two price points that seem to be getting a lot of attention lately in the Downtown/Belltown/South Lake Union neighborhoods- 1 bedrooms between $1500 & $2000 and 2 bedrooms+ priced at $4500 per month and up.
After a month or two worth of inventory that has been just sitting with little to no interest, we are now seeing multiple offers/applications, new listings renting with one or two showings and a dramatic increase in prospective tenants utilizing our rental search services. Rental rates for one bedrooms are increasing anywhere from $150-$300 and the higher-end homes anywhere from $250 to $600 per month depending on the type of unit/view/square footage, etc.
Due to the shift in the market, a lot of tenants are choosing to extend their current leases which in turn makes the market tighter AND we have continued to see an increase in newly hired employees moving to the area. Fueling the fire, we are approaching the dead of summer (even though it doesn’t feel like it) and this time of year is typically the busiest of them all!
There are some misnomers about deposits in Seattle that all landlords and tenants should be aware of. Here is a list of things to know about your deposit and the Landlord’s responsibility with regards to them, as it stands now.
Provisions for Deposits:
- Landlords cannot insert provisions in their rental agreements that require tenants to pay for all damages to the tenant’s unit that are not caused by the tenant or the tenant’s guests. Landlords who collect nonrefundable fees with the security deposit must specifically state within the written lease agreement that the fee will not be returned. Additionally, landlords may not refer to these nonrefundable fees as “deposits.”
14 Day Rule:
- Seattle landlords have 14 days following the end of a lease to return remaining security deposits with a written accounting of what charges were deducted from the tenant’s deposit. Landlords can properly deduct for damage to property beyond normal wear and tear and to cover damages that were not existent prior to the tenant’s rental. Landlords who mail the deposit and statement of itemization can comply with Seattle’s 14 day law if the landlord mails it through first class mail within 14 days. Landlords who fail to comply with this rule can be sued for twice the amount of the deposit.
- If a landlord collects an upfront security deposit from his tenants, then Seattle’s Landlord-Tenant Act requires a written lease agreement between the parties. Landlords may not enter into oral lease agreements with their tenants if they are requiring security deposits. The rental agreement must outline what the deposit can be used for and what the tenant must do to receive a return of the deposit at the end of the lease agreement. The landlord must provide each tenant with a written receipt for the deposit.
Property Condition Checklist:
- To deduct from the security deposit, Seattle’s landlords must fill out a checklist or written statement that describes the property’s condition prior to the tenant moving in. The landlord must provide a copy to the tenant and obtain the tenant’s signature. Landlords must also provide their tenants with a signed copy of the statement.
- Landlords must place their security deposits into an escrow account or trust account and provide the tenant with written notice as to where the deposits are being maintained. Usually this is noted in the lease. After the tenancy ends, the landlord may keep all interest earned by the security deposits, unless the lease provision states otherwise.
- Since landlord-tenant laws can frequently change (contact Seattle Rental Group with questions), you should not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through a licensed attorney.