How to Break a Rental Lease in Washington State

by Michelle Hornaday
Know the terms of your lease agreement.

Whether purchasing a new home or simply moving to a new rental unit, tenants may need to terminate a rental lease early. Month-to-month tenants pay rent with the understanding that 20 days of notice is sufficient prior to moving. Tenants under a longer lease, such as a year, may need to negotiate with the landlord to avoid having to pay the remainder of the year's rent. Knowing your rights as a tenant under Washington state law is important, but the terms of the lease agreement ultimately dictate the consequences of an early termination.

Early Termination of a Rental Agreement

Read the terms and fine print of your lease agreement carefully. Pay particular attention to the sections detailing the amount of notice required prior to moving out and any consequences for terminating the lease early.

Notify the landlord in writing as soon as possible; this will provide enough time to negotiate any terms for early termination and allow the landlord to find a new tenant.

Record the negotiated terms and intended move-out date on paper, once both parties agree, and request that the landlord sign the document. Confirm that you intend to return the rental unit in the same condition from the initial time of leasing, and that the landlord return the security deposit at that time.

Locate the original inventory detailing the condition of the rental unit at the time of your move-in. Use this as a final checklist before moving out to ensure a full refund of your security deposit. Return all door, mailbox and storage unit keys, as well as garage door openers to the landlord. You'll also need to forward your mail to your new address.

About the Author

Michelle Hornaday lives in Edmonds, Washington and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Washington State University and a Master of Education from Northern Arizona University. She is currently a freelance writer for various websites.

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