Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities Article


Security Deposits

What is a security deposit?

A security deposit is a sum of money that a landlord is permitted to charge a tenant at the beginning of a lease or rental agreement in order to ensure that if the tenant causes any damage to the rental unit beyond ordinary wear and tear or moves out without first paying all of the rent that the tenant owes, the landlord will have the money to cover those losses.

Why is it important to document the condition of a rental unit before moving in/out?


Given that one of the major purposes of a security deposit is to ensure that a landlord has the money to cover the cost to repair any damage to the rental unit caused by a tenant, it is strongly recommended that both the tenant and the landlord TAKE PHOTOS AND/OR VIDEO of the rental unit showing its condition both before the tenant moves in and just after the tenant moves out. A tenant who is vacating a rental unit may also wish to have a friend drop by to witness the condition of the unit first-hand.

How much may a security deposit be?

Under Arizona law, a landlord may ask for a security deposit up to an amount that is equal to 1 + ½ month’s rent (A.R.S. §33-1321(A)). A landlord may not ask for more than this. (So, for example, if the monthly rent is $1,000, then the most that the landlord may charge as a security deposit is $1,500, which is one month’s rent ($1,000) plus one-half of one month’s rent ($500).)

May a landlord charge a tenant more than this amount?

As long as it is stated explicitly in the rental agreement, a landlord may ask a tenant to “voluntarily” pay advance rent in any amount (for example, first and last month’s rent) before the tenant moves into the rental unit.

May part of a deposit (or fee) be non-refundable?


If any amount of a deposit or fee is intended by a landlord to be non-refundable at the end of a lease, this must be stated explicitly in the rental agreement, which must also include an explanation of the purpose of the non-refundable deposit or fee (A.R.S. §33-1321(B)). Any part of a deposit or fee that is not specifically designated as non-refundable is considered refundable.
 
What documents is a landlord required to give a new tenant at move-in?

When a new tenant moves into a rental unit, the landlord must give the tenant:

1. a signed copy of the lease or rental agreement
2. a move-in form on which the tenant can record any damage to the unit that already exists; and
3. written notification that the tenant may be present at a move-out inspection (A.R.S. §33-1321(C).

What may be deducted from a security deposit?

At the conclusion of the rental agreement, the landlord may deduct from the security deposit:

(a) any unpaid rent that the tenant still owes (subject to the landlord’s duty to mitigate future losses)

(b) the cost required to repair any damage caused to rental unit by the tenant beyond ordinary wear and tear

(c) other expenses incurred by the landlord due to the tenant’s failure to fulfill the tenant’s obligations (for example, the cost of removing from the rental unit and disposing of personal items left behind by the tenant), and/or

(d) any other charges that the rental agreement specifically allows the landlord to collect from the tenant (A.R.S. §33-1321(D)).

After the landlord has deducted these amounts (if any), the landlord must return all remaining money from the security deposit to the tenant.

How does a tenant recover a security deposit after moving out?


A tenant who intends to vacate a rental unit should either hand deliver or send by registered or certified mail a letter to the landlord providing written notice of the date on which the tenant plans to move out and also requesting a move-out inspection date so that the tenant may be present. At the end of this article there is a link to a “Notice of Intent to Vacate and Request for Move-Out Inspection Date” form that the tenant may use. The tenant should make and keep a copy of this letter.

When the tenant moves out (or a couple of days beforehand), the tenant should also either hand deliver or send by registered or certified mail a letter to the landlord requesting the return of the tenant’s security deposit and providing the tenant’s new address. At the end of this article there is a link to a “Request for Return of Security Deposit” form that the tenant may use. The tenant should make and keep a copy of this letter as well.

Within 14 days (excluding weekends and holidays) after the tenant has moved out and the landlord has received the tenant’s Request for Return of Security Deposit, the landlord must provide the tenant with an itemized list of all the charges (if any) that the landlord intends to deduct from the security deposit as well as the balance of the security deposit itself (A.R.S. §33-1321(D)). This list of deductions and any amount due must be sent by the landlord to the address identified in the tenant’s written request or to the tenant’s last known residence if no forwarding address was supplied.

Attached Document
.pdf Security Deposits


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QUESTIONS

  • We received info about renewing our lease, at a property where we have lived for almost 1 year. When we moved in, we noticed the irrigation system needed repairing, but the property mgmt. company said the landlord would not repair it, and to use an above ground sprinkler, which we did. One of the conditions on the option to renew states: "The tenant shall maintain the landscape irrigation system, including the automatic timer, in good working condition and make any needed repairs at their sole expense." Isn't this forcing us to repair the irrigation system was never worked right? Ideas?
  • Hello we have a tenant that rents a place on are property for 475.00 month her it includes her utilities cable and internet air heat garbage water sewer. She moved her boyfriend and his dog in about the same time. She works he is here 24 7. For 3 months he has been here causing problems within the neighborhood I can no longer use my back yard for my dogs as my little dog well start a fight because he thinks his dog has taken over his yard. I have reached the end of being taken advantage of. She gave notice of 18 days I accepted can I boot him like I should have?
  • If a tenant is making me ill by smoking; what rights do I have. It is stated in the landlords responsiblities that he is responsible for tenants "Healthy Environtment"...
  • Recently in my apartment the refrigerator went out andwas repaired by a repair man the manager sent over and the repairman stated that for me to write out a list of food that was lost and take to the office.this was done and I also sign the paper stating that this in fact did happen.the manager stated that under normal situation the landlord is not responsible for the food that was lost,but because the repairman stated that he would make sure I would get paid for food lost.I would have to take this up with my insurance (Renter's insurance) about $75-100 worth of groceries.The manager has offered to deduct $75 dollars off of rent for the following month,and i agreed to this. The question is am I to be responsible for food that was lost ,when the appliance came with the apartment?this is not the first time this has happen to me.should I contact my insurance company regarding this issue?
  • my room mate is holding my belongings and won't release them until I pay $1500 to him is this legal
  • If I am moving out of home that I am renting and there are damages made on my behalf, Can I repair on my own before I move out or does the landlord have the right to do repairs themselves and charge me?
  • I live in a apt complex and i am a section 8 tenant that pays zero rent and is required to pay only utilities.. therefore the apt complex charges the tenants a monthly water bill that is not included in the rent amt... is the mgr. here at apt complex allowed to charge a tentant late fees the same as in rental late fees .. for being late on paying t them for water bill ?? This is a new Mgr.. and previous Mgr. never charged me for being just one month late .. I dont even pay rent and he charged me over 800.00 for bill and fees Thanks to my son he came and saved me from being homeless.
  • I rented my houseout Nov 15 2008, and the rental agreement expires on Nov 15th 2013, Is it legal for the tenants to give me a 30 day notice of termination of rental agreement? What do I need to do? What is the law for that?
  • How much financial info do I need to provide a landlord, ie; account numbers, amount of money in stocks, bonds and municipal funds. I am very concerned about disclosing this type of information w/ all the hacking going on in our society today...
  • Moved into renovated home was to be done by 6/18 (day moved in). Upon arrival; 2 baseball size holes in 2 windows & piles of trash under carport. Due to incorrect measurements windows would be another week. Week1 dryer vent had to be re-cut, electrician rewired house due to fire hazard. Week2 plumbing unable to do laundry 2weeks now, family has to share 1 bathroom, windows not replaced. Week3 windows replaced 7/1–7/6, plumbing on hold to find better price (laundry?), & still sharing bathroom. Was given 1 months free rent but asking us to pay full electricity bill. What are her obligations?

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