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

  • I just want to know how this landlord/tenant works, our landlord emailed us that he was coming but we never checked the email and he still came and enter the back of the house, which is scared me because I didnt know it was him 2. He doesnt provide any type of service for landscaping but he said that we didnt have the place in optimal state and that he hopes that we have the inside clean, I havent responded because I did not know what to say
  • My landlord has not paid property taxes this year and is behind on the morgage pymts. The house is not in foreclosure yet. Does he still have the right to evict me for non-pymnt. ?
  • I found a statute saying a victim of domestic violence can terminate lease without repercussion but my landlord won't accept. What do I do?
  • I the home owner. I had a management co. The renter tried to fix stuff on his own. EX. tub faucet was taken off and the pipe was caped off with looks like a lotion top. Internal parts of toilet was removed and not replaced. Just to name a few. The never contacted the company to have them fixed. The CO is now telling me stuff I can't charge for the renter for failing to have them so the repairs. They are also telling me that a plumber costs to much & she has a handy man that can do the job instead of the plumber. She is also said doors that have dents can be patched instead of a new door.
  • 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?
  • I Sublet a room in the house I live in and the Roommate stopped paying rent. December 1st will be 3 months not paid. There is NO lease. The agreement was pay weekly and utilities included.
  • My landlord has asked my roommate from what they have told me to write down my ssi number on note paper instead of calling my guardian or calling me or even asking in person what do I do and do I need to contact authorities
  • My apartment community has changed ownership several times since I moved in 4 years ago. I discovered that my unit was wired to provide electricity for one of the apartment amenities that was outside of my unit. The management has fixed the problem but they are only offering to reimburse me for the time that they owned the property, about 13 months and told me that I would have to track down the previous owners for the rest of the money. Should they be obligated to pay a rebate for the 3 years that I was paying for their electricity or do I indeed need to take it up with the previous owners
  • My family has been living at our location for over 3 years. We just asked to renew our lease a few months ago. As we were going through the house to see what needs to be fixed and repaired, my wife and I admitted that a few things is our responsibility. Other things I feel should be our LL. We had someone say that who ever done the tile did a bad job, and that the kitchen needs to be replaced. That was why about 9 tiles cracked. The refrigerator is over 15 years old and she wants us to buy a new one. We told her about the garage door breaking. Her excuse that she had to pay over $1200 for this
  • Can landlords evict for no reason?

STORIES

  • I just helped my mother, age 89, deal with her Medicare HMO. . .
  • If you get a divorce, make sure your date of birth is on the Decree if your name is changing!. . .
  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .

LegalLEARN

YOUR FEEDBACK IS NEEDED

FIND LEGAL HELP

  • Please select your county of residence below.

    County:
     

OTHER LEGAL RESOURCES

  • State Bar of Arizona
    www.azbar.org
  • Maricopa County Bar
    www.maricopabar.org
    Referral number 602-257-4434
  • Pima County Bar
    www.pimacountybar.org
    Referral number 520-623-4625
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
    800-799-7233
  • Bankruptcy Court Self Help Center
    866-553-0893
  • Certified Legal Document Preparer Program
    Link

ORGANIZATIONS