Tenants' Rights: Moving Out

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If you are a tenant thinking about moving out of your rental, know your rights and responsibilities. #6371EN

Please Note

Washington's laws affecting renters have changed as of July 23, 2023. Please read 2023 changes to Washington State's laws affecting renters for a summary.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Yes. You must send the landlord a letter saying you are moving. The landlord must get the letter at least 20 days before the end of the rental period.

Download a sample letter to your landlord.

It is the day before rent is due. The day you deliver the notice does not count in the 20 days.

Example: Your rent is due July 1. You want to move out in June. Get the letter to the landlord by June 9.

Maybe not. You may be able to end the rental agreement immediately. You must follow certain guidelines. Read Landlord-Tenant Issues for Survivors of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and/or Stalking.

Yes. You can end a month-to-month tenancy with less than 20 days' notice if you get immediate assignment orders. 

You must pay whichever comes first:

  • Rent for the month after you move out


  • Rent for 30 days from the day the landlord finds out you moved  

The landlord must try to rent the unit as soon as they find out you moved. If they can rent it less than 30 days after you moved, you only have to pay for the days the apartment was empty. After the next month, you do not have to pay anything.

If you move out at the end of a lease, your lease may require that you give notice before it is up. If you do not, the rental agreement may turn into a month-to-month agreement. You should probably give notice regardless. Then you can notify the landlord of your forwarding address and get your deposit back.

If you stay beyond the end of a lease and the landlord accepts rent for the next month, you become a "month-to-month" renter. All rules for month-to-month renters now apply to you.

You must pay the lesser of

  • Any money owed under an installment payment plan to cover move-in costs and

  • the rent for all the months left in the lease


  • all rent owed before the landlord was able to re-rent the unit

You must give the landlord 7 days' notice of the reassignment or deployment order. 

The landlord has 30 days after you move out to return your security deposit or give you a letter stating why they are keeping any of it. Your landlord also has to provide written evidence (like receipts or invoices) of how much it cost to repair or clean the rental unit. You should take pictures or video of how the place looks when you leave to prove how you cleaned it. If you have a hard time getting your deposit back, use Letter to Landlord for Return of a Security Deposit - Self-Help Forms or get Getting Your Security Deposit Back .

Yes. Your landlord cannot file an eviction lawsuit against you now. But the landlord can still sue you for rent or other damages the landlord says you owe. Your landlord has 6 years after you move out to sue you for rent owed if you had a written rental agreement. Read My Former Landlord Says I Owe Damages and Get Legal Help information below.

No. Even if you move, you must still respond to the eviction case. Otherwise, you will lose the case automatically. Talk to a lawyer right away. See Get Legal Help information below.

The landlord may have assumed you abandoned the rental. The landlord can take and store your property if you "abandon" the rental. In some cases, the landlord can move your property to the nearest public space. You abandoned the rental if both these are true:

  • You stopped paying the rent. 

  • You acted like you have moved out.  Examples:  You moved all your things out.  You stopped sleeping there.

If your things are worth more than $250, the landlord must send written notice to your last known address 30 days before selling them. If it is worth less than $250, the landlord must send written notice 7 days before the sale.

Get Legal Help

Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help. 

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Last Review and Update: Oct 19, 2023
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