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

  • How can I get help ? I have a neighboring tentant and they keep harrasing me. I don't know them or know their names. I've reported complaints to manager about them throwing large amounts of cigarettes at my door- even leaving them burning at my door step. There is a  10 day notice that has passed and they continue the harrassment..
  • I signed a joint lease and paid my share to leave. The other person did not pay. Can they go after me for the balance?
  • I had made an appointment for a visual mold inspection to be performed at the condo I rent, due to my landlords not taking action and telling me it was my responsibility to pay for a test. I informed both the Inspector and landlord that I was running 10 minutes late. The landlords did not wait for me to be present and let the inspector in my home without my permission, had the test performed and was done before I arrived.If I made the appointment and did not give permission for them to enter or was informed they entered, is there something I can do about this?
  • My daughter is 21 years old...she lives at Visconti on Camel back apartments. There is a very dangerous stalker who has keyed her car, poisoned her dog with break crumbs, harrassed her and other's. He walks around punching himself in face pointing at her. Cops have been called multiple times. She is scared and wants to break lease..only one month. Visconti says "no"... shouldn't they provide proper security? Somebody was murdered there two months ago also? Please help- I need her to leave.
  • I recently moved out and the landlord never gave me my deposit back. I left the home in good condition the only thing he wrote on the disposition report that the carpet was dirty. Ever since we moved in we told him the carpet needed to be replace because it was worn out and you could see previous stains he never did anything about it. Now he wants to subtract that from the deposit which i think is unfair. What can I do?
  • A tree fell through my apartment for the third time in the 14 years i have lived there. This time there was damage to my personal property. Is my landlord responsible for replacing my property? She has known that this tree was dead for a long time.
  • I applied at an apartment complex and they told me I needed to pay a holding fee so they can hold the apartment for me. All I did qawas sign the application and told them i would bring tye holding fee another day so they gave me another form stating all of the fees I was to pay at move in. (You sign that AFTER you pay the holding fee). So a couple days later I went in and cancelled my application and now they're sending me to collection for that holding fee. I asked to be shown the policy on that and all they showed me was a paper saying the amount and next to it "non-refundable".
  • I have a roommate that lets her boyfriend come over everyday and stay over every night. We are only paying rent for 2 people, not 3. I have tried talking to her about it and how this is not what I signed on for. Is it legal for her boyfriend to be basically living with us for free?
  • can my landlord/property manager enter my gated back yard without proper notice. i have small children who play out in the backyard and feel that we should have our privacy when in our home but he just comes over when ever he feels like it. he does not enter the house just the yard in the lease it says that we as the tenants are responsible for maintenance in the front and back yard so there is really no reason for him to be there, he also sprays weed poison with out telling us is any of this legal.
  • How long does the landlord have to fix damages in my apartment that were their on move in?

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