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Security deposit assistance

Security deposit assistance

What can I do if I need help paying my security deposit?

Call 2-1-1, Washington Information Network, for current information about agencies providing deposit assistance.

Tips when calling 2-1-1:

  • Generally, lowest call volumes are on Wednesday –Thursday between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
  • Call from a landline if you have limited cell phone minutes
  • Write down the contact information, hours of operation and eligibility info for agencies suggested by the 211 operator
  • When you contact the agencies, make notes about the conversations (examples: “left message, need to call back” “appointment on Monday at 2:00”)
  • If agencies report that funds are not currently available, ask when they will receive funding again so that you can contact them at that time

I’ve already called the agencies suggested by 2-1-1 and deposit assistance was not available.  What else can I do? Who else can I ask about deposit assistance?

  • Community agencies or religious organizations you currently receive services from might be able to help, or may be able to provide direct referrals to agencies that provide deposit assistance
  • Family and friends might be willing to assist or provide a loan
  • Ask your potential landlord about other deposit payment arrangements

The landlord may be willing to delay your security deposit payment, or accept a portion of the deposit at move in along with an agreement to pay the remaining amount in installments.  

If you agree to pay your deposit over time, be sure to get the agreement in writing and make a realistic plan with your landlord to avoid promising more than you can deliver.  Failing to pay a deposit as promised may be grounds for eviction

If the landlord is willing to accept a delayed security deposit payment, you may be able to use the security deposit refund from your current rental to pay for all or part of the deposit on your new rental.

When I’m ready to pay my security deposit, what should I keep in mind?

  • Pay your deposit with a check or money order and get a receipt
  • Check to see if any of the money you are paying at move in is listed as a “fee” (usually not refundable) 
  • You cannot be charged a pet deposit for your service animal, but you must pay for damages the animal causes
  • When you move out, if you don’t owe rent and don’t have to pay for damages or cleaning, the landlord must return your deposit within 21 days. If the landlord keeps any of the deposit, they must tell you why in writing
  • You will have a better chance of getting all your deposit back if you give proper notice to vacate, provide a forwarding address, remove all your belongings, and clean the place thoroughly