If you’re ever faced with an abandoned rental unit your first priority is to get it rented again. The landlord does have the legal right to damages in Washington, and the amount of damages depends on the term of the tenancy.
- For a month-to-month tenancy the tenant is liable for the rent due for the 30 days following either the date the landlord learns of the abandonment, or the date the next regular rent payment would have become due, whichever comes first.
- For a tenancy with a term greater than month-to-month the tenant is liable for the lesser of the entire rent for the remainder of the term, or all rent accrued during the time it takes the landlord to re-rent the premises at a fair rental, plus any difference between the fair rental and the rent agreed to with the old tenant, plus any costs incurred by the landlord in re-renting the premises along with court costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees.
Property Left Behind
Once the landlord has determined that your tenant has abandoned the property and defaulted on the rent payment, the landlord can take possession of any property left behind and may store the property in a secure place. The next step is for the landlord to send a written notice to the tenant regarding the property. The notice should contain the name and address of the landlord, as well as the location of the stored property and the information for any sale or disposal of the property, to include the date of a sale or disposal.
If the landlord does not hear from the tenant then the landlord has the right to landlord sell or dispose of the property, including personal papers, family pictures, and keepsakes.
The tenant has the right to take back possession of the property prior to the date or disposal. The landlord must return the property to the tenant if the tenant has paid the costs of storage and if the tenant responds to the notice from the landlord within forty-five days from the date of the notice. If the landlord does not hear from the tenant then the landlord has the right to landlord sell or dispose of the property, including personal papers, family pictures, and keepsakes. The landlord may apply any income received from a sale to moneys due, including costs of storage of the property.
There is a stipulation for property with a cumulative value of $250 or less. In this case, the landlord may sell or dispose of the property, except for personal papers, family pictures, and keepsakes, after seven days from the date the notice of sale or disposal is mailed or personally delivered to the tenant. This stipulation is only allowed if the landlord makes reasonable efforts to notify the tenant. Any excess income derived from the sale of the property must be held by the landlord for the benefit of the tenant for one year from the date of sale. If no claim is made within that one year then the balance is the property of the landlord.