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Landlord Dispute / Statue of Limitations?

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State of Washington

I had an apartment with my wife, to make it brief, the management was not very friendly to tenants. They went so far as to send around a newsletter to all tenants reminding people that loud snoring is bothering your neighbors. We did have some issues with our dogs as well, they claimed we didn't register them when we actually did, turns out a miscommunication on their part between employees.

We were fed up, moved out and paid rent for 1 month until it was re-rented (i.e. they lost no rent). The apartments claimed we owed them an ADDITIONAL months rent because we didn't tell them we were moving out with a 15 day notice before the end of the month. I searched the Washington RCW and only can find 15 day notices required at the end of leases and month-to-month rentals.

1) Do we owe the apartment any money? I can't find anything supporting their claim in WA law in the landlord/tenant act.

2) What is the statue of limitations on their claim? They threatened to sue us for the measley $800 bucks they CLAIM we owe them, I've replied each time with certified mail explainint their error.

Can anybody offer some help? Thanks.


Senior Member
Your post isn't clear about how many months were left on your lease when you moved out, but your post implies that you were not on a month-to-month and that you didn't fulfill the full term of your lease.

If that is the case (You moved out in the middle of the lease), Washington Code (RCW 59.18.310(2)) provides for YOU to be responsible for the ENTIRE lease period, not just until the unit is re-leased, as long as the landlord is making a valid effort to re-lease the unit. Here is what this Code says:
"(2) When the tenancy is for a term greater than month-to-month, the tenant shall be liable for the lesser of the following:
(a) The entire rent due for the remainder of the term; or
(b) All rent accrued during the period reasonably necessary to rerent the premises at a fair rental, plus the
difference between such fair rental and the rent agreed to in the prior agreement, plus actual costs incurred by the
landlord in rerenting the premises together with statutory court costs and reasonable attorney's fees."
Here is the URL to view this code text:
http://search.leg.wa.gov/wslrcw/RCW 59 TITLE/RCW 59 . 18 CHAPTER/RCW 59 . 18 .310.htm

Also, this is supported by the WA Attorney Generals website on Landlord-Tenant issues, "Proper Notice to Leave":
"When a tenant wants to move out of a rental unit, it is important that the proper kind of notice be given to the
landlord. The following discusses how to end the two most common types of rental agreements. However, it is important that tenants check their own rental agreements to determine what kind of notice must be given before they move out.

Leases. If the tenant moves out at the expiration of a lease, in most cases it is not necessary to give the landlord a written notice. However, the lease should be consulted to be sure a formal notice is not required. If a tenant stays beyond the expiration of the lease, and the landlord accepts the next month's rent, the tenant then is assumed to be renting under a month-to-month agreement.
A tenant who leaves before a lease expires is responsible for paying the rent for the rest of the lease. However, the landlord must make an effort to re-rent the unit at a reasonable price. If this is not done, the tenant may not be liable for rent beyond a reasonable period of time."
Source: http://www.wa.gov/ago/consumer/lt/notice.html

Looks to me like you are probably liable for the 'lost' rent, plus court costs and reasonable attorney fees if litigated.

As to the statute of limitations, when did you move out.
According to my cursory research, the SOL in WA is 6 years for a written contract (assume you had a written lease).


Thanks for the response.

To clarify, yes we moved out during the lease with a few months left on the agreement. There was a waiting list for the apartment complex and hence took the chance.

You confirm some of my findings, so we owe "lost rent" which is nothing because we in fact paid the rent for a month until it was re-rented.

Also, we did in fact give some two weeks notice before vacating and the you confirm that moving out during a lease requires adequate notice but does not state "15 days" as a requirement nor did our written lease state such for term leases.

I'm curious about recovery of the legal and court costs though. There is a Washington Landlord Tenant act pamphlet I have, available through the Seattle tenant's union and supplied by the apartments when renting, that states it is illegal to recover legal costs from tenants in such disputed cases. (unless you are conducting illegal activities on the property, damage the property, etc.)

Thanks for the help.


Senior Member
I think you may be misreading my response and the Washington Code.

It doesn't matter whether you gave notice or not. You breached your lease agreement by moving out before the full term. That makes you responsible for ALL lost rents, until the unit was released. And if it was re-leased for less than you were paying, your are liable for the loss in rental difference.

And, in addition to 'lost' rent or rent deficit, you are liable for ALL "actual costs incurred by the landlord in rerenting the premises together with statutory court costs and reasonable attorney's fees."

Bottom line... if the landlord was 'damaged' by your breach, you are liable. This means if the landlord had a new tenant move in with ANY days between your final rent and the new rent, and the new tenant was at the same rent rate, you are responsible for the 'lost' rent. And only you and the landlord know the calendar facts of the rental.

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