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Signing a Lease: What Are These Fees?

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project LSC Funded

A description of common fees you may have to pay when signing a rental lease.


What is a cleaning fee?

Some landlords charge a cleaning fee to use to have a place cleaned after you move out. Some landlords request a nonrefundable cleaning fee. No matter how clean you leave the place, the landlord keeps the fee. RCW 59.18.285.

*RCW stands for Revised Code of Washington. The RCW's are Washington State's laws. 

What is an application fee or holding fee?   - RCW 59.18.253

Giving a landlord an application fee or holding fee ensures the landlord will not rent the place to someone else before you move in. Usually, the landlord keeps a holding fee or deposit if you change your mind and do not take the place. If you do move in, the landlord must apply the fee towards your security deposit or first month's rent.

*The landlord may not keep any of your holding fee if the unit fails a tenant-based rental assistance program inspection (example:  Section 8 voucher program). If the inspection does not happen within ten days of you paying the fee, the landlord does not have to hold the place for you.

*If the landlord wrongly keeps the fee, s/he can be charged with up to twice the fee if you sue the landlord and win.

What is "last month's rent paid in advance?"

Paying the last month's rent in advance is not technically a deposit.  The landlord can only use it for payment of that month. Example:  the landlord cannot keep it for damages. The landlord must refund this money if you move out early at the landlord's request or after you give proper notice.



This publication provides general information concerning your rights and responsibilities.  It is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice. 
This information is correct as of March 2015.

© 2015 Northwest Justice Project — 1-888-201-1014
(Permission for copying and distribution granted to the Alliance for Equal Justice and to individuals for non-commercial purposes only.)

Last Review and Update: Mar 18, 2015