What is a security deposit, and how much is your landlord allowed to charge you for it?
A security deposit is a sum of money that your landlord may charge you at the beginning of your lease to ensure that if you cause any damages to the rental unit or move out without paying all of the rent that you owed, your landlord will have money from you to cover those losses. After your lease ends, your landlord may deduct from your security deposit any unpaid rent that you may owe, as well as any other charges that your rental agreement specifically allows your landlord to collect from you.(A.R.S. §33-1321(D)). After deducting these amounts, your landlord must return any remaining money from your security deposit to you.
By law, your landlord cannot charge you more than an amount equal to 1 ½ month's rent as a security deposit. (A.R.S. §33-1321(A)). Any amount that you pay as a deposit is refundable at the end of your tenancy UNLESS IT IS SPECIFICALLY DESIGNATED IN WRITING AS NON-REFUNDABLE. A.R.S. §33-1321(B).
When You Move In Your Landlord Must Give You:
- A signed copy of your lease agreement
- A move-in form upon where you can record any damages to the unit that already exist
- Written notification that you may be present at a move-out inspection. A.R.S. §33-1368(C).
When You Move Out
- You should mail a letter to your landlord giving Notice of the date you plan to move out and Requesting a Move Out Inspection date so that you can be present. You will find a form in this article entitled "Request for Move-Out Inspection" that you may use to make this request. Keep a copy of the letter for your records.
- When you move out or a couple of days before, you should mail a letter to you landlord asking for the return of your security deposit. You will find a form in this article entitled "Request for Return of Security Deposit" that you may use. Make sure to put your new address on this form and keep a copy for your records.
- Within 14 days of sending your Request for Return of Security Deposit, excluding weekends and holidays, your landlord must provide you with an itemized list of all charges that he or she intends to deduct from your security deposit, and the balance of your security deposit. Your landlord must mail this itemized list of charges to the address that you specified in your request, or to your last known address if you fail to provide a forwarding address. A.R.S. §33-1321(D).
- At the Move-Out Inspection, you may want to bring a friend along so that you will have a witness. If you can, you may also want to take a camera along to take pictures.
TAKE PICTURES!!! Whether a move-out inspection is conducted or not, after moving your belongings and cleaning, take pictures to document the condition of the apartment. You may also want to invite a friend over as a witness to the condition of the apartment.