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've paid a security deposit of $300 for my apt. and have a receipt. The landlord is increasing the amount to $400 and says I owe another $100! I say no! You can charge new tenants whatever you want that's legal, but you can't increase my amount after the fact. Please let me know if I must pay the additional $100. Thank you.
  • How long a landlord take to fix your a/c?
  • Who in tucson do I report my landlord about living conditions
  • If I can't get a hold of my tenant in regards to late rent am I allowed to call her work number in an attempt to collect late rent?
  • For over a year my roommates and I have had a reoccurring mice problem. We keep areas clean, take out the trash regularly, and have never caused any sort of damage to our property. Our rental property will only put down traps and do not make any major effort to eradicate the problem with mice. How can we get them to move forward in paying for extermination and an expert to identify where the mice are coming in?
  • I was let go from the company I work for. I had employee housing that I took a paycut for to supplement me staying in the house. I was not given an eviction notice but was told that I needed to be out by 6 pm the same day. It was 1 pm when I was informed. My final check has been withheld until I move out. And my landlord/employer has told me the locks will be changed the next day. Is this even legal??
  • My daughter turned 18 a week ago and when I just renewed my lease, they made me put her on there? And ran a credit score? Is this right? If I'm late on a payment it goes on her credit too?? We have lived here for 4 years...
  • I live in a complex that has no steps just a dirt hill to my apt. I took a severe slip and fall, the mngt. says it's my fault and I cannot deal with them any farther. I have had lose of work and definate pain and suffering. I have med.records to prove.
  • I live in a rental apartment. The microwave oven door fell apart and when I called to have it repaired I was charged for the repairs which cost more than if I had replaced the oven. There are also fees that were added on for community amenities that were not listed in the lease, such as community electricity and common gas, and valet waste and waste management. ?Can the apartment complex charge me for these even though they are not listed in the lease?
  • We put a maintenance request in over a year ago about a leaking skylight. The property manager has yet to fix it. It is getting worse and growing mold now. I put in a new maintenance request over the weekend and have yet to hear from anyone. Is this something that I can withhold rent for until it is fixed or should I hire someone to fix it myself? I do have proof of the original maintenance request dated 4/19/2019 as well as the one I just put in. I don't know how they expect me to pay $1500 dollars for a home with a leak and mold that they won't fix.

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