questions & answers
Question: We recently moved out of our rental due to purchasing a home. Our rent was paid through July 31st. We noticed yesterday new renters were moving into our rental house . (June 27th)Real Property Management is refusing to give us our deposit back and is stating we still owe them July's rent. Which I have receipts of payment. Is our only action to go to Small Claims Court ?
Answer: There are a number of issues involved here. The first concerns whether or not you provided the landlord (or property management company) with written notice of your intention to vacate the dwelling before your lease expired. Tenants who intend to vacate a leased dwelling should formally notify their landlords in writing. Under the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, if a tenant has a lease and vacates (and removes all his/her belongings from) a dwelling prior to the expiration of the lease without providing notice to the landlord, then the tenant is considered to have “abandoned” the dwelling (A.R.S. 33-1370). If a dwelling has been abandoned, the landlord must send the tenant a notice of abandonment by certified mail and post a notice of abandonment on the door to the dwelling for five days. After 5 days have passed, the landlord may take possession of the dwelling and re-rent it at a fair rental value. If, prior to the expiration of the former tenant’s lease, the landlord is able to re-rent the dwelling, then the former tenant’s lease is considered to end as of the date of the start of the new tenant’s rental term. In your case, your landlord cannot claim that you owe full rent for July if the dwelling has been re-rented. However, if your landlord has made a good faith effort to re-rent the dwelling to another tenant, but has done so at a rate that is less than what you had paid, your landlord may claim the difference. (The specifics will depend, among other things, on when your original lease was set to expire.) As for your security deposit, you must also request it (along with whatever part of your July rent payment the landlord has no legitimate claim to) in writing. Under Arizona law, when a former tenant’s lease ends, as yours seemingly has, any property or money held by the landlord as prepaid rent and security may be applied to the payment of any outstanding rent and, subject to every landlord’s duty to mitigate, any charges as specified in the lease as well as any monetary damages suffered by the landlord through the actions or inactions of the former tenant. Within 14 working days of written notice from the former tenant, the former landlord is required to provide the amount due along with an itemized list of any deductions. If the landlord fails to comply with this duty, the former tenant may recover the property and money due as well as additional damages in an amount equal to twice the amount that the former landlord is wrongfully withholding (A.R.S. 33-1321). If, after you have sent your former landlord a letter (by certified or registered mail) requesting the return of all money now owed (with photocopies of receipts enclosed), your former landlord still fails to comply, then at that point you may wish to consider mediation and/or a small claims suit.
We recently moved out of our rental due to purchasing a home. Our rent was paid through July 31st. We noticed yesterday new renters were moving into our rental house . (June 27th)Real Property Management is refusing to give us our deposit back and is stating we still owe them July's rent. Which I have receipts of payment. Is our only action to go to Small Claims Court ?
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