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

  • Is a landlord legally required to provide external doors for apartment entrances, or can they use hollow interior doors instead of exterior doors? My apartment had a hollow door for my apartment entrance that got damaged and the property management is making me pay for the new solid, exterior door to replace the hollow interior door used incorrectly as an exterior facing door. I learned that my apartment was not the only one on the property with an interior door used as an exterior door and would like to know how legal that is.
  • Does a landlord have to give the tenant interest on your security deposit in the state of Arizona?
  • One year lease ended, converting to month to month lease, per provision in original lease. Landlord now says they want either a $300 fee to write a new lease or add a monthly $50 fee if month to month. There is nothing stated in original lease that either of these fees would be applied after the initial year ended. Is this legal?
  • What is the time limit on the landlord fixing problems in the house? We have sent 3 requests since August 3, 2014 and they still have not fixed these 2 problems.
  • If we are moving into a house and the Tenant did not clean after they left and we are cleaning it. do we have to pay a deposit.
  • My ex and I shared a storage unit in AZ for almost 3 years. After we broke up, he now lives in TN and I moved back to TX. I'd like to go to AZ to get a few of my things that are irreplaceable (family photos, records, diplomas, etc.) The storage unit said I no longer have access to the unit since he has removed me as an authorized user. Only he can access it or he hast to be present (he's abusive, i dont want him near me) What are my rights? Can an officer escort me to the unit? Is Public Storage that powerful as to withhold my things? Can i send public storage an affidavit to mail my things?
  • The home we are renting is set to go to Trustee Auction at the end of this month. The "Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act" expired 12/31/2014. What are my rights as a tenant now that this has expired. Can I be evicted without notice..do I still have to receive ample notice if the new owner wishes to occupy the home?
  • I am a landlord with a Phoenix rental condo. As a result of plumbing work done by the HOA in the wall between my unit and another, a minor flood was caused resulting in water damage to the floor and some of my tenants items. I am dealing with my insurance company to do repairs. In the meantime, my tenant has decided to withhold rent (for 2 months now). Is this allowed under the law?
  • If I have evicted our tenant for non payment and have a judgment against our tenants for non payment of rent can I deduct the amount of the judgment from the security deposit?
  • I live in apartments and the management is trying to back charge us an increased city tax rate of 2.9% for the past month and going forward. I know the rate is subject to change, but don't they have to give us a 30 day written notice of the change and rent increase? The residential rate here in Glendale is 2.2%, are they legally even able to enforce the higher rate without a tax increase? What kind of actions can I and other residents take?

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