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 am a condo owner, I live in the unit and rent out my 2nd bedroom to someone. We have a lease, and we have also been working under the agreement that we switch off paying for things that we share, for example paper towels, light bulbs in the common areas, etc. However, she is now refusing to purchase a new furnace filter, saying that is a 'maintenance item' and is my responsibility. I think this falls under the 'damages due to negligence' clause in the lease. I plan to take the cost of the filters out of her last month's rent and her lease-end date be moved up accordingly. Is that legal?
  • I rented a home for almost 8 years. We were never offered any carpet cleaning or paint the entire time we were there. The landlord about a year ago said they would give us paint but only with a new year lease. I heard that they are required to offer carpet cleaning and paint every 2-3 years. They are trying to charge us now that we've moved for carpet cleaning and new paint. Are they able to do that when we got nothing the whole time?
  • Can a landlord charge a non-refundable security deposit?
  • If the a/c unit goes out in your apartment can you deduct the cost of a hotel room from your rent
  • There is mold epidemic in my storage room. My possessions that were stored in there are destroyed and they are doing major repairs that will require to tear down walls leave me without hot water. I am asthmatic and have allergies. What are my options?
  • I recently had to move since my landlord sold the home we were renting. I have asked for my deposit to be returned. He simply ignores my letters. How can I force him to return the deposit?
  • I leased my house to a couple with a teenage daughter. It has been month to month after the first year. The wife signed the lease in her name only and then the couple divorced. She moved out and the ex-husband stayed with his daughter in the house. Is the ex-husband still liable for the provisions of the lease his ex-wife signed? Or is the ex-wife responsible? Thank you.
  • I presently residing in a over 55 complex for the past three yrs. Never had to pay for rental insurance. Now, with the new lease coming, they are asking for payment on an insurance. My question is: Is this insurance a LAW? Do I have to pay a yearly insurance or montly? If there is no law, I do not/cannot afford to pay. As well as other seniors in the complex. We only live on a SS checks. Many do not have enough to their personal needs. I cannot pay for a lawyer either. I just need to know the LAW on the subject so that I know what to do. Thank you in advance for your kind attention to this mat
  • I leased a townhome from a private individual and he uses a realtor to complete his tranacetions for him. I vacated the premises on 6/22. The lease terminated 6/30. His representative told me I would have my security deposit back within 14 days of turning the keys over. I still don't have my security deposit back. The landlord has told me the 14 days started on June 30. I'm getting conflicting information from him and his realtor. Which one is correct?
  • my mom lives with her boyfriend in a house he own through his tust she recently died & boyfriend went to jail now the the boyfriends brother is saying the trust is selling the house & I had less than a week to get my mom & my stuff out shouldn't I have 30 days to get her stuff out or what can I do he threw away the stuff I left in the driveway before I was able to get it which was very sentimental to me I don't feel it's right I don't know how to go about this please help

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