When you are ready to move out
When to give notice that you are
vacating the house or apartment
- Month to month - RCW 59.18.200
- If you are on a month to month agreement, you must give your
landlord 20 days written notice before the end of the rental period (or
21 days before rent is due).
- If you mail the notice, be sure you allow sufficient time for
delivery by mail.
- The 20 days begins after the notice is delivered.
- Example of dates: If your rent is due on March 1st, the landlord
must receive your written notice on February 7th.
- Be sure to keep a copy for your records.
- Term rental agreement - RCW 59.18.220
- If you are on a rental agreement, your tenancy usually ends when
that period is over.
- You should check your lease to see if notice is required.
- Talk to your landlord to negotiate a new agreement if you wish to
- Threat to your safety
- In certain circumstances, you may terminate a lease before waiting
for the expiration date. This is only permissible in case of a threat to
- If another tenant threatens you with a deadly weapon and the other
tenant is arrested as a result of the threat, if the Landlord fails to
begin an unlawful detainer action within seven (7) days notice from the
tenant of the other’s arrest, you may vacate. In such case you are
entitled to receive the security deposit and a pro-rata rent refund.
See RCW 59.18.352.
- If the landlord threatens you with a deadly weapon and is arrested,
you may vacate. In such case, you shall receive a security deposit and
pro-rata rent refund. See RCW 59.18.354.
- If you have a protective order that is violated, you notify the
police of the violation, and provide a copy to the landlord, you may
vacate. In such case, you shall receive a security deposit and pro-rata
rent refund. See RCW 59.18.356.
- Active duty military deployment
- The Federal law known as the Soldiers’ and Sailors’
Civil Relief Act of 1940 (SSCRA) allows service members to terminate a
rental agreement early if they are ordered to active duty.
- Specific conditions apply and must be met if you wish to break your
lease if you are "activated". For further information, read this
- If you have been "activated" and want to break your lease, be sure
you give your written notice in a timely manner.
How to give notice
- Attached is a sample Notice to Vacate which you might review and
modify to meet your needs. Click here if you need to download Adobe
Acrobat Reader to see this file.
- Be sure you have the dates and timing correct when you give your
- Always give your Notice to Vacate in writing. Be sure to keep a copy
in your files.
If you leave before end of rental
- If you break your lease or fail to give proper notice, you could be
responsible for additional rent. RCW 59.18.310
- When the tenancy is month-to-month, you shall be liable for the rent
for the thirty days following either the date the landlord learns of the
abandonment, or the date the next regular rental payment would have
become due, whichever first occurs.
- When the tenancy is for a term greater than month-to-month, you
shall be liable for the lesser of the following:
- The entire rent due for the remainder of the term; or
- All rent accrued during the period reasonably necessary to re-rent
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 re-renting the premises together with
statutory court costs and reasonable attorney's fees
You cannot deduct security deposit from
last month’s rent
- Your security deposit is to protect the landlord from any damages or
- Deposits may not be “applied” to the last month’s
- Deposits do not apply to normal wear and tear.
Comply with rental agreement
- Cleaning: Check your rental agreement and make sure just how clean
your landlord expects the premises to be when you move out.
- Checklist: Go over the checklist with the landlord just as you did
when you moved in.
Your forwarding address and other
- Be sure to leave a forwarding address with your landlord –
without it the landlord will mail the accounting for your deposit to
your last known address (that would be the one you are vacating) and it
will be up to the Post Office to forward that important mail along to
- Contact your utilities to have all them turned off.
- Complete and submit the Post Office forms so they can forward your
Disclaimer: The material on the Rental Housing Association of
Puget Sound’s website does not constitute legal advice, but rather
information for your general guidance and help. Laws and regulations
change and may change faster than our web pages are updated. There may
be other facts which would result in a different interpretation and
different results. If you need legal advice, consult your