Tenants can now pay most move-in costs in installments

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State law now lets tenants pay certain move-in costs on a payment plan. #6344EN

Please Note:

  • Read this only if you live in Washington State.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


As of June 2020, Washington State law gives tenants the right to pay certain upfront fees in an installment plan instead of all at once.

You can now pay these move-in costs in installments:

  • Deposits
  • Nonrefundable fees
  • Last month’s rent.

Maybe. The landlord may still require you to pay upfront any holding fees, holding deposits, screening fees, or background check fees.

But there’s a limit to these fees: Any holding fees or deposits cannot be more than 25% (one quarter) of your first month’s rent.

Also, landlords must follow certain rules to be able to charge these fees. Read Your Rights as a Tenant in Washington State and Tenant Screening: Your Rights.

You must ask in writing for an installment plan. Your landlord is required to accept an installment plan if they get a request from you.

Yes. All payment plans must be in writing and signed by you and the landlord. Remember to keep a copy for your records.


If the rental agreement is 3 months or longer, you can ask for a payment plan of 3 monthly, equal payments.

If the rental agreement is less than 3 months, you can ask for a payment plan of 2 monthly, equal payments.

Payments are due on the same day as rent (usually the first of the month). The payment plan starts at the beginning of your tenancy.

If this will make it harder for you to pay your rent, you might be able to get a new due date for the rent. Read Can I change the date my rent is due?

No. The landlord cannot charge you any fees or interest if you choose to enter into a payment plan.


The landlord can turn you down if the total amount of deposits and nonrefundable fees are not more than 25% of the first month’s rent, and the landlord is not requiring you to pay the last month’s rent when you move in.

The landlord can start an eviction lawsuit (called an unlawful detainer action) against you by serving you with a 14-day Pay or Vacate Notice. It’s treated as if you didn’t pay your rent. Read Eviction and Your Defense.

  • If your landlord turned down your request to pay in installments, you miss a payment, or your landlord starts an eviction action against you, try to get legal help right away.

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Get Legal Help

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

Last Review and Update: Sep 06, 2022
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