Can a lease agreement contain a clause that you forfeit your entire security deposit without applying it to cleaning, damage, unpaid rent, if you break the lease?

Also, can the landlord bill you for “unpaid deposit” that you agreed to pay on promissory note, but never finished paying?

Asked on December 9, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Washington


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A lease can contain a provision within it that you are writing about as to a forfeiture. However, in most states in this country, the forfeiture of the security deposit that you have written about would be deemed a penalty in violation of public policy and unenforceable.

The security deposit is typically applied to repairs needed at the end of the lease but if the agreement states that it can be used for unpaid rent, then it can as well.

As to the unpaid deposit owed per a promissory note, the landlord can bill the former tenant for that amount which has not been paid in full.

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