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


Comments:

QUESTIONS

  • My apartment building is newly owned by a new company. They're saying that everything that was okayed by the old apartment manager does not mean anything so my boyfriend and I live together we are not currently under a lease and she's saying that he can't be here even though neither of us have a lease and we have both been residing here for a few months now
  • my question is: reguarding "earnest deposits" and when they are not refundable/ also what does it mean when you have "first right of refusal to rent a specific property/,
  • Can I still sue my landlord for not returning my security deposit within 14 days if i haven't sent a demand letter requesting it?
  • If you have a lease, and you have had non stop roof leaks from the rain storms. Black mold growing in the ceiling. Constant requests to get them fixed have not stopped the leaking. Landlord says the lease can be broke after Dec. can he keep my deposit if we decide to take our baby and move out early?
  • Can a landlord ask all his tenants to because of redevelopment, and give us 30 days, and can I request financial help to move.
  • 2 weeks after our final walk through with our landlord confirming the condo was in perfect condition, the landlord contacted me and said that the day after the walk through, she sensed a smell of cigarette smoke in the condo and had to have some treatment done and had to hold new tenants back for 3 days and that she was going to withdraw these charges from our security deposit. Noone ever smoked in the condo located in Flagstaff with no A/C unit and windows were always open. There are wildfires in the area that we have no control of. This cannot be legal and I am willing to go to court!
  • My landlord has been retaliating on me because I filed a complaint with the city for them failing to remedy a bed bug issue. Now they are refusing to make repairs, harassing me at all hours of the day and night and threatening to evict me with unjustified causes. Additionally, my lease is up in 3 months and they are planning on showing my unit for the next THREE months which is excessive and highly invasive. What can I do to prevent all of this?
  • The Property Management company finally fixed the plumbing after 2.5 months of not working and draining human waste to the backyard...now I have holes throughout the kitchen and living room and in the walls. I have sent a certified letter asking for fit premises...but how can I get them to act to ensure my family is living in a safe environment?
  • I signed my contract on the 24th of August 2019. I didn't move in until 26th due to no fridge and power. I paid 795 plus the 250 when I turned my application in and signed the lease. Them never mentioning that I had a pro rate for August of 205 till after I signed the contract. Now are charging me the late fees for the pro rate. The contract states everything about late fees but nothing about pro rate.
  • I came home yesterday afternoon and my landlord had broken into my home and was inside and had several people inside I didn't know and they were going through my things and throwing my belongings outside, I have not been evicted. things were missing and some were destroyed what can I do

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