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 have a one year lease that expires in a few months and I am worried my landlord my not be renewing the lease. Is the landlord required to give at me least 30 days notice of their intent not to renew lease? If not 30 days then what in minimum notice that must be given (that lease will not be renewed)?
  • 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.
  • My lease agreement with my landlord ended in November 2018. We are still living in the Unit, but she gave us a notice to vacate by april 6th 2020. She never made us sign another lease agreement for the last year and a half. I'm choosing to move out March 12th but the landlord is saying I still have to pay March's rent because my roommate is staying until March 31st. Am I obligated to stay and pay March's rent even though there is no new lease agreement and I signed a notice to vacate by April 6th. Which I'm leaving before that.
  • The property management company is trying to charge a new deposit. I've lived here since 3/5/19 and have already paid a deposit to the previous property manager that was handling this unit. He was fired due to theft. He drafted my lease to show my move in date to be 4/30/19 instead of 3/5/19. I paid a deposit and rent for march and april and the property management company has no record of it and are unable to locate the person who was fired. What can I do?
  • I am buying an RV but they put rent to own on contract and say they are not liable for 2 broken air conditioning units leaks in the flooring/plumbing broken electrical recepticals electric doesn't work properly. Are they responsible
  • Can I take my landlord to court for making me pay for water when it's not stated in my lease I'm not fixing my washer and dryer for 5 months now?
  • We are renting a house but one window is broken. We noticed it when we first moved in and that has been over 6 months ago. It's the only window in the room. The agency knows about the window but have not done anything. I feel it's a safety issue. What are our rights?
  • How long do I have to sue my ex landlord?
  • unfortunately I have a slum lord!he does not provide any source of heat,and its cold as hell,we bought two small space heaters and can only use 1 at a time cuz it trips the main breaker,and often cant even use 1 it still trips ,we have to wait 15 min to flip back on because its so hot,also the bar looks like its melting some its blackened and some of the plastic is melted,I fear we are near to have a fire,can we hold off rent to make him fix this or not?this guy charges 50 in late fee on 5th an add 90on 9th and ten a day there after once we paid on 13 and late fee was 285,rent is 680,wtf
  • If the property management company changes can I cancel my lease?

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