State of Washington
66th Legislature
2019 Regular Session
ByRepresentatives Macri, Jinkins, Shewmake, Robinson, Doglio, Ryu, Morgan, Goodman, Cody, Orwall, Slatter, Thai, Reeves, Appleton, Dolan, Bergquist, Peterson, Pollet, Gregerson, Frame, and Davis
Read first time 01/28/19.Referred to Committee on Civil Rights & Judiciary.
AN ACT Relating to protecting tenants in residential tenancies; amending RCW 59.18.040, 59.18.220, 61.24.060, 59.18.250, 59.18.230, and 59.18.280; reenacting and amending RCW 59.18.030; adding new sections to chapter 59.18 RCW; creating a new section; and prescribing penalties.
NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1. (1) The legislature finds that:
(a) There is a housing crisis in Washington state that is worsened by the absence of a state law prohibiting a landlord from evicting a tenant without cause.
(b) The state's prolonged affordable housing crisis disproportionately impacts low-income and working class persons and families, people of color, women, immigrants, seniors, and the LGBTQ community. These communities are disproportionately impacted by no cause eviction and displacement, creating residential segregation in our communities.
(c) Renters, who constitute a large percentage of the residents of Washington, suffer great and serious hardship when forced to move from their homes. No cause evictions have a negative, destabilizing impact on the peace, health, and safety of renters and their families.
(d) Studies have shown that women, especially women of color, are disproportionately impacted by evictions. The presence of children in a household increases the likelihood of eviction, even though discrimination based on family status is illegal under federal law. Without cause eviction protection, preventing discriminatory eviction practices is impossible.
(e) Renters deserve access to safe and healthy housing, but many renters in our state live in substandard rentals. Cause eviction protection allows renters to raise concerns with the habitability of a rental without the fear of retaliation in the form of a no cause eviction.
(f) Displacement through eviction uproots children from schools, disrupting the social ties and networks that are integral to residents' welfare and the stability of communities within Washington. Studies have shown students who have moved multiple times are more likely to have poorer grades in reading and math, and have a higher risk of dropping out of school, thus impacting the state's economy.
(g) Displacement through eviction creates undue hardship for renters with low incomes through additional relocation costs, stress and anxiety, and the threat of homelessness due to the lack of alternative housing.
(h) Basic fairness requires that a landlord must not terminate the tenancy of a residential tenant without good, just, nonarbitrary, nondiscriminatory reasons.
(2) The legislature further finds that the cause eviction protections enacted in other states such as New Jersey and New Hampshire have aided community stability and reduced problems associated with arbitrary disruption of stable households.
(3) The legislature, therefore, concludes that the general welfare of all residents of Washington would be enhanced if no cause evictions were prohibited, and declares its intention to create long-term housing stability among all renters in Washington through cause eviction protections.
Sec. 2. RCW 59.18.030 and 2016 c 66 s 1 are each reenacted and amended to read as follows:
As used in this chapter:
(1) "Certificate of inspection" means an unsworn statement, declaration, verification, or certificate made in accordance with the requirements of RCW 9A.72.085 by a qualified inspector that states that the landlord has not failed to fulfill any substantial obligation imposed under RCW 59.18.060 that endangers or impairs the health or safety of a tenant, including (a) structural members that are of insufficient size or strength to carry imposed loads with safety, (b) exposure of the occupants to the weather, (c) plumbing and sanitation defects that directly expose the occupants to the risk of illness or injury, (d) not providing facilities adequate to supply heat and water and hot water as reasonably required by the tenant, (e) providing heating or ventilation systems that are not functional or are hazardous, (f) defective, hazardous, or missing electrical wiring or electrical service, (g) defective or hazardous exits that increase the risk of injury to occupants, and (h) conditions that increase the risk of fire.
(2) "Commercially reasonable manner," with respect to a sale of a deceased tenant's personal property, means a sale where every aspect of the sale, including the method, manner, time, place, and other terms, must be commercially reasonable. If commercially reasonable, a landlord may sell the tenant's property by public or private proceedings, by one or more contracts, as a unit or in parcels, and at any time and place and on any terms.
(3) "Comprehensive reusable tenant screening report" means a tenant screening report prepared by a consumer reporting agency at the direction of and paid for by the prospective tenant and made available directly to a prospective landlord at no charge, which contains all of the following: (a) A consumer credit report prepared by a consumer reporting agency within the past thirty days; (b) the prospective tenant's criminal history; (c) the prospective tenant's eviction history; (d) an employment verification; and (e) the prospective tenant's address and rental history.
(4) "Criminal history" means a report containing or summarizing (a) the prospective tenant's criminal convictions and pending cases, the final disposition of which antedates the report by no more than seven years, and (b) the results of a sex offender registry and United States department of the treasury's office of foreign assets control search, all based on at least seven years of address history and alias information provided by the prospective tenant or available in the consumer credit report.
(5) "Designated person" means a person designated by the tenant under RCW 59.18.590.
(6) "Distressed home" has the same meaning as in RCW 61.34.020.
(7) "Distressed home conveyance" has the same meaning as in RCW 61.34.020.
(8) "Distressed home purchaser" has the same meaning as in RCW 61.34.020.
(9) "Dwelling unit" is a structure or that part of a structure which is used as a home, residence, or sleeping place by one person or by two or more persons maintaining a common household, including but not limited to single-family residences and units of multiplexes, apartment buildings, and mobile homes.
(10) "Eviction history" means a report containing or summarizing the contents of any records of unlawful detainer actions concerning the prospective tenant that are reportable in accordance with state law, are lawful for landlords to consider, and are obtained after a search based on at least seven years of address history and alias information provided by the prospective tenant or available in the consumer credit report.
(11) "Gang" means a group that: (a) Consists of three or more persons; (b) has identifiable leadership or an identifiable name, sign, or symbol; and (c) on an ongoing basis, regularly conspires and acts in concert mainly for criminal purposes.
(12) "Gang-related activity" means any activity that occurs within the gang or advances a gang purpose.
(13) "In danger of foreclosure" means any of the following:
(a) The homeowner has defaulted on the mortgage and, under the terms of the mortgage, the mortgagee has the right to accelerate full payment of the mortgage and repossess, sell, or cause to be sold the property;
(b) The homeowner is at least thirty days delinquent on any loan that is secured by the property; or
(c) The homeowner has a good faith belief that he or she is likely to default on the mortgage within the upcoming four months due to a lack of funds, and the homeowner has reported this belief to:
(i) The mortgagee;
(ii) A person licensed or required to be licensed under chapter 19.134 RCW;
(iii) A person licensed or required to be licensed under chapter 19.146 RCW;
(iv) A person licensed or required to be licensed under chapter 18.85 RCW;
(v) An attorney-at-law;
(vi) A mortgage counselor or other credit counselor licensed or certified by any federal, state, or local agency; or
(vii) Any other party to a distressed property conveyance.
(14) "Landlord" means the owner, lessor, or sublessor of the dwelling unit or the property of which it is a part, and in addition means any person designated as representative of the owner, lessor, or sublessor including, but not limited to, an agent, a resident manager, or a designated property manager.
(15) "Mortgage" is used in the general sense and includes all instruments, including deeds of trust, that are used to secure an obligation by an interest in real property.
(16) "Normal wear and tear resulting from ordinary use of the premises" means deterioration that results from the intended use of a dwelling unit, including breakage or malfunction due to age or deteriorated condition. Such wear does not include deterioration that results from negligence, carelessness, accident, or abuse of the unit, fixtures, equipment, or other tangible personal property of the landlord by the tenant or the tenant's guests.
(17) "Owner" means one or more persons, jointly or severally, in whom is vested:
(a) All or any part of the legal title to property; or
(b) All or part of the beneficial ownership, and a right to present use and enjoyment of the property.
(((17)))(18) "Person" means an individual, group of individuals, corporation, government, or governmental agency, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, or association, two or more persons having a joint or common interest, or any other legal or commercial entity.
(((18)))(19) "Premises" means a dwelling unit, appurtenances thereto, grounds, and facilities held out for the use of tenants generally and any other area or facility which is held out for use by the tenant.
(((19)))(20) "Property" or "rental property" means all dwelling units on a contiguous quantity of land managed by the same landlord as a single, rental complex.
(((20)))(21) "Prospective landlord" means a landlord or a person who advertises, solicits, offers, or otherwise holds a dwelling unit out as available for rent.
(((21)))(22) "Prospective tenant" means a tenant or a person who has applied for residential housing that is governed under this chapter.
(((22)))(23) "Qualified inspector" means a United States department of housing and urban development certified inspector; a Washington state licensed home inspector; an American society of home inspectors certified inspector; a private inspector certified by the national association of housing and redevelopment officials, the American association of code enforcement, or other comparable professional association as approved by the local municipality; a municipal code enforcement officer; a Washington licensed structural engineer; or a Washington licensed architect.
(((23)))(24) "Reasonable attorneys' fees," where authorized in this chapter, means an amount to be determined including the following factors: The time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly, the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services, the amount involved and the results obtained, and the experience, reputation and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services.
(((24)))(25) "Reasonable manner," with respect to disposing of a deceased tenant's personal property, means to dispose of the property by donation to a not-for-profit charitable organization, by removal of the property by a trash hauler or recycler, or by any other method that is reasonable under the circumstances.
(((25)))(26) "Rent" or "rental amount" means consideration for use and occupancy of the premises. These terms do not include charges for costs incurred due to late fees, damages, utilities, deposits, legal costs, or other fees, including attorneys' fees.
(27) "Rental agreement" means all agreements which establish or modify the terms, conditions, rules, regulations, or any other provisions concerning the use and occupancy of a dwelling unit.
(((26)))(28) A "single-family residence" is a structure maintained and used as a single dwelling unit. Notwithstanding that a dwelling unit shares one or more walls with another dwelling unit, it shall be deemed a single-family residence if it has direct access to a street and shares neither heating facilities nor hot water equipment, nor any other essential facility or service, with any other dwelling unit.
(((27)))(29) A "tenant" is any person who is entitled to occupy a dwelling unit primarily for living or dwelling purposes under a rental agreement and any occupant who has coresided with the tenant for six months or more prior to the tenant vacating the property.
(((28)))(30) "Tenant representative" means:
(a) A personal representative of a deceased tenant's estate if known to the landlord;
(b) If the landlord has no knowledge that a personal representative has been appointed for the deceased tenant's estate, a person claiming to be a successor of the deceased tenant who has provided the landlord with proof of death and an affidavit made by the person that meets the requirements of RCW 11.62.010(2);
(c) In the absence of a personal representative under (a) of this subsection or a person claiming to be a successor under (b) of this subsection, a designated person; or
(d) In the absence of a personal representative under (a) of this subsection, a person claiming to be a successor under (b) of this subsection, or a designated person under (c) of this subsection, any person who provides the landlord with reasonable evidence that he or she is a successor of the deceased tenant as defined in RCW 11.62.005. The landlord has no obligation to identify all of the deceased tenant's successors.
(((29)))(31) "Tenant screening" means using a consumer report or other information about a prospective tenant in deciding whether to make or accept an offer for residential rental property to or from a prospective tenant.
(((30)))(32) "Tenant screening report" means a consumer report as defined in RCW 19.182.010 and any other information collected by a tenant screening service.
Sec. 3. RCW 59.18.040 and 1989 c 342 s 3 are each amended to read as follows:
The following living arrangements are not intended to be governed by the provisions of this chapter, unless established primarily to avoid its application, in which event the provisions of this chapter shall control:
(1) Residence at an institution, whether public or private, where residence is merely incidental to detention or the provision of medical, religious, educational, recreational, or similar services, including but not limited to correctional facilities, licensed nursing homes, monasteries and convents, and hospitals;
(2) Occupancy under a bona fide earnest money agreement to purchase or contract of sale of the dwelling unit or the property of which it is a part, where the tenant is, or stands in the place of, the purchaser;
(3) Residence in a hotel, motel, or other transient lodging whose operation is defined in RCW 19.48.010;
(4) Rental agreements entered into pursuant to the provisions of chapter 47.12 RCW where occupancy is by an owner-condemnee and where such agreement does not violate the public policy of this state of ensuring decent, safe, and sanitary housing and is so certified by the consumer protection division of the attorney general's office;
(5) Rental agreements for the use of any single-family residence which are incidental to leases or rentals entered into in connection with a lease of land to be used primarily for agricultural purposes;
(6) Rental agreements providing housing for seasonal agricultural employees while provided in conjunction with such employment;
(7) Rental agreements with the state of Washington, department of natural resources, on public lands governed by Title 79 RCW((;
NEW SECTION.  Sec. 4. A new section is added to chapter 59.18 RCW to read as follows:
(1) A landlord may not evict or attempt to evict, or otherwise terminate or attempt to terminate, the tenancy of any tenant without a court order, and the order may be issued by a court only after the landlord pleads cause with specificity, the tenant has an opportunity at a show cause hearing to contest the eviction pursuant to RCW 59.18.380, and the landlord proves that cause exists. The following reasons for termination of tenancy listed in this subsection, and no others, constitute cause under this chapter:
(a) The tenant continues in possession in person or by subtenant after a default in the payment of rent, and after written notice requiring, in the alternative, the payment of the rent or the surrender of the detained premises has remained uncomplied with for the period of twenty-one days after service thereof, provided the property is in compliance with local codes. The written notice may be served at any time after the rent becomes due;
(b) The tenant continues, after thirty days' written notice to cease, to substantially violate a material term subscribed by the tenant within the original lease or rental agreement other than one for monetary damages. Within thirty days after the service of the written notice, the tenant, or any subtenant in actual occupation of the premises, or any mortgagee of the term, or other person interested in its continuance, may perform such condition and thereby save the lease or rental agreement from forfeiture;
(c) The tenant continues to commit, after three days' written notice to cease, an ongoing, substantial interference with the use and enjoyment of the premises;
(d) The tenant continues in possession after the owner of a residential building with three units or less in good faith seeks possession so that the owner or his or her immediate family may occupy the unit as that person's principal residence and no substantially equivalent unit is vacant and available to house the owner or his or her immediate family in the same building, and the owner has given at least ninety days' advance written notice of the date the tenant's possession is to end. An owner may not exercise this subsection (1)(d) against any tenant who is sixty years of age or older or is a person with a disability as defined within RCW 49.60.040(7) unless the owner makes available a comparable dwelling to the tenant prior to taking possession. There is a rebuttable presumption that the owner did not act in good faith if the owner or his or her immediate family fail to occupy the unit as a principal residence for at least sixty consecutive days during the ninety days immediately after the tenant vacated the unit pursuant to a notice of termination or eviction using this subsection (1)(d) as the cause for eviction;
(e) The tenant continues in possession after the owner elects to withdraw the premises from the rental market, including to pursue a conversion pursuant to RCW 64.34.440, and after the owner has given at least one hundred twenty days' advance written notice of the date the tenant's possession is to end. A notice made in bad faith is subject to damages pursuant to this subsection;
(f) The tenant continues in possession of the premises after the landlord serves the tenant by one hundred twenty days' advance written notice with plans to substantially rehabilitate or demolish the dwelling. A notice under this subsection (1)(f) must include approvals and plans from the local jurisdictions for the rehabilitation project in accordance with local law. A notice made in bad faith is subject to damages pursuant to this section;
(g) The tenant continues in possession, after the landlord has served thirty days' advance written notice that: (i) The premises has been certified or condemned as uninhabitable by a local agency charged with the authority to issue such an order; (ii) continued habitation of the premises would subject the landlord to civil or criminal penalties; and (iii) it is economically unfeasible to restore the premises to a habitable condition. However, if the terms of the local agency's order do not allow the landlord to provide thirty days' advance written notice, the landlord shall provide as much advance written notice as is possible and still comply with the order.
(2) A person in violation of this section shall be held liable in a civil action up to four and one-half times the monthly rent of the real property at issue, as well as court costs and reasonable attorneys' fees.
(3) Nothing in subsection (1)(d), (e), or (f) of this section permits a landlord to terminate a fixed term tenancy before the completion of the term.
(4) All written notices required under subsection (1) of this section must be served in a manner consistent with RCW 59.12.040.
Sec. 5. RCW 59.18.220 and 2003 c 7 s 2 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) In all cases where premises are rented for a specified time, by express or implied contract, ((the tenancy shall be deemed terminated at the end of such specified time))upon expiration and absent an agreement to renew the lease or rental agreement, the tenancy shall be construed to be a tenancy from month to month with rent payable on the same terms and conditions in existence at the time of expiration and subject to the protections of this chapter.
(2) Any tenant who is a member of the armed forces, including the national guard and armed forces reserves, or that tenant's spouse or dependent, may terminate a tenancy for a specified time if the tenant receives reassignment or deployment orders. The tenant shall provide notice of the reassignment or deployment order to the landlord no later than seven days after receipt.
NEW SECTION.  Sec. 6. A new section is added to chapter 59.18 RCW to read as follows:
Under this chapter:
(1) A landlord must first apply any payment made by a tenant toward rent, as that term is defined in RCW 59.18.030, before applying any payment toward late fees, damages, utilities, deposits, legal costs, or other fees, including attorneys' fees.
(2) Continued tenancy or relief from forfeiture may not be conditioned on a tenant's payment or satisfaction of any monetary amount other than rent. However, this does not foreclose a landlord from pursuing other lawful remedies to collect late payments, damages, legal costs, or other fees, including attorneys' fees.
(3) A landlord may not unreasonably restrict the ability of a tenant to have an immediate family member or members reside with the tenant. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as invalidating or impairing the operation of, or the right of, a landlord to restrict occupancy in order to comply with federal, state, or local laws, regulations, ordinances, or codes.
Sec. 7. RCW 61.24.060 and 2009 c 292 s 10 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) The purchaser at the trustee's sale shall be entitled to possession of the property on the twentieth day following the sale, as against the borrower and grantor under the deed of trust and anyone having an interest junior to the deed of trust, including occupants who are not tenants, who were given all of the notices to which they were entitled under this chapter. The purchaser shall also have a right to the summary proceedings to obtain possession of real property provided in chapter 59.12 RCW; except that protections afforded to a tenant or an occupant pursuant to chapter 59.18 RCW shall survive such sale.
(2) If the trustee elected to foreclose the interest of any occupant or tenant, the purchaser of tenant-occupied property at the trustee's sale shall provide written notice to the occupants and tenants at the property purchased in substantially the following form:
"NOTICE: The property located at . . . . . . was purchased at a trustee's sale by . . . . . . on . . . . . . (date).
1. If you are the previous owner or an occupant who is not a tenant of the property that was purchased, pursuant to RCW 61.24.060, the purchaser at the trustee's sale is entitled to possession of the property on . . . . . . (date), which is the twentieth day following the sale.
2. If you are a tenant or subtenant in possession of the property that was purchased, pursuant to RCW 61.24.146, the purchaser at the trustee's sale may either give you a new rental agreement OR give you a written notice to vacate the property in sixty days or more before the end of the monthly rental period."
(3) The notice required in subsection (2) of this section must be given to the property's occupants and tenants by both first-class mail and either certified or registered mail, return receipt requested.
Sec. 8. RCW 59.18.250 and 2010 c 8 s 19026 are each amended to read as follows:
Initiation by the landlord of any action listed in RCW 59.18.240 within ninety days after a good faith and lawful act by the tenant as enumerated in RCW 59.18.240, or within ninety days after any inspection or proceeding of a governmental agency resulting from such act, shall create a rebuttable presumption affecting the burden of proof, that the action is a reprisal or retaliatory action against the tenant: ((PROVIDED, That if at the time the landlord gives notice of termination of tenancy pursuant to chapter 59.12 RCW the tenant is in arrears in rent or in breach of any other lease or rental obligation, there is a rebuttable presumption affecting the burden of proof that the landlord's action is neither a reprisal nor retaliatory action against the tenant:)) PROVIDED ((FURTHER)), That if the court finds that the tenant made a complaint or report to a governmental authority within ninety days after notice of a proposed increase in rent or other action in good faith by the landlord, there is a rebuttable presumption that the complaint or report was not made in good faith: PROVIDED FURTHER, That no presumption against the landlord shall arise under this section, with respect to an increase in rent, if the landlord, in a notice to the tenant of increase in rent, specifies reasonable grounds for said increase, which grounds may include a substantial increase in market value due to remedial action under this chapter: PROVIDED FURTHER, That the presumption of retaliation, with respect to an eviction, may be rebutted by evidence that it is not practical to make necessary repairs while the tenant remains in occupancy. In any action or eviction proceeding where the tenant prevails upon his or her claim or defense that the landlord has violated this section, the tenant shall be entitled to recover his or her costs of suit or arbitration, including a reasonable attorney's fee, and where the landlord prevails upon his or her claim he or she shall be entitled to recover his or her costs of suit or arbitration, including a reasonable ((attorney's))attorneys' fee((: PROVIDED FURTHER, That neither party may recover attorney's fees to the extent that their legal services are provided at no cost to them)).
Sec. 9. RCW 59.18.230 and 2011 c 132 s 11 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) Any provision of a lease or other agreement, whether oral or written, whereby any section or subsection of this chapter is waived except as provided in RCW 59.18.360 and shall be deemed against public policy and shall be unenforceable. Such unenforceability shall not affect other provisions of the agreement which can be given effect without them.
(2) No rental agreement may provide that the tenant:
(a) Agrees to waive or to forgo rights or remedies under this chapter; or
(b) Authorizes any person to confess judgment on a claim arising out of the rental agreement; or
(c) Agrees to pay the landlord's attorneys' fees, except as authorized in this chapter; or
(d) Agrees to the exculpation or limitation of any liability of the landlord arising under law or to indemnify the landlord for that liability or the costs connected therewith; or
(e) And landlord have agreed to a particular arbitrator at the time the rental agreement is entered into.
(3) A provision prohibited by subsection (2) of this section included in a rental agreement is unenforceable. If a landlord deliberately uses a rental agreement containing provisions known by him or her to be prohibited, the tenant may recover actual damages sustained by him or her, statutory damages not to exceed ((five hundred dollars))one month's rent or treble actual damages, whichever is greater, costs of suit, and reasonable attorneys' fees.
(4) The common law right of the landlord of distress for rent is hereby abolished for property covered by this chapter. Any provision in a rental agreement creating a lien upon the personal property of the tenant or authorizing a distress for rent is null and void and of no force and effect. Any landlord who takes or detains the personal property of a tenant without the specific written consent of the tenant to such incident of taking or detention, and who, after written demand by the tenant for the return of his or her personal property, refuses to return the same promptly shall be liable to the tenant for the value of the property retained, actual damages, and if the refusal is intentional, may also be liable for damages of up to five hundred dollars per day but not to exceed five thousand dollars, for each day or part of a day that the tenant is deprived of his or her property. The prevailing party may recover his or her costs of suit and a reasonable attorneys' fee.
In any action, including actions pursuant to chapters 7.64 or 12.28 RCW, brought by a tenant or other person to recover possession of his or her personal property taken or detained by a landlord in violation of this section, the court, upon motion and after notice to the opposing parties, may waive or reduce any bond requirements where it appears to be to the satisfaction of the court that the moving party is proceeding in good faith and has, prima facie, a meritorious claim for immediate delivery or redelivery of said property.
Sec. 10. RCW 59.18.280 and 2016 c 66 s 4 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) Within twenty-one days after the termination of the rental agreement and vacation of the premises or, if the tenant abandons the premises as defined in RCW 59.18.310, within twenty-one days after the landlord learns of the abandonment, the landlord shall give a full and specific statement of the basis for retaining any of the deposit together with the payment of any refund due the tenant under the terms and conditions of the rental agreement. The landlord shall include copies of estimates received or invoices paid to substantiate damage charges. Any damages not substantiated by third-party documentation may not be charged to the tenant.
(a) No portion of any deposit shall be withheld on account of normal wear and tear resulting from ordinary use of the premises.
(b) The landlord complies with this section if the required statement or payment, or both, are delivered to the tenant personally or deposited in the United States mail properly addressed to the tenant's last known address with first-class postage prepaid within the twenty-one days.
(2) If the landlord fails to give such statement and documentation together with any refund due the tenant within the time limits specified above he or she shall be liable to the tenant for the full amount of the deposit. The landlord is also barred in any action brought by the tenant to recover the deposit from asserting any claim or raising any defense for retaining any of the deposit unless the landlord shows that circumstances beyond the landlord's control prevented the landlord from providing the statement within the twenty-one days or that the tenant abandoned the premises as defined in RCW 59.18.310. The court ((may in its discretion))shall award up to two times the amount of the deposit for the intentional refusal of the landlord to give the statement, documentation, or refund due. In any action brought by the tenant to recover the deposit, the prevailing party shall additionally be entitled to the cost of suit or arbitration including a reasonable attorneys' fee.
(3) Nothing in this chapter shall preclude the landlord from proceeding against, and the landlord shall have the right to proceed against a tenant to recover sums exceeding the amount of the tenant's damage or security deposit for damage to the property for which the tenant is responsible together with reasonable attorneys' fees.
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