A Summary Of Arizona Landlord-Tenant Rules Concerning Security Deposits
All About Landlord-Tenant Security Deposits In Arizona
A security deposit is commonly used at the beginning of a property rental term. It is a lump sum of money paid by the renter to protect the landlord from the possibility of damage to the property beyond regular wear and tear, or to ease the financial blow if the tenant decides to skip out on rent. Few landlord/tenant issues are as commonly misunderstood and cause more hard feelings at the end of a rental term than the security deposit. The following article touches on a few of the most common issues with security deposits and the Arizona rules about security deposits.
There Are Time Limits To Security Deposit Returns
One common problem, especially with non-professional landlords, is the failure to return the tenant’s security deposit within the time limit set out under Arizona law. The deposit must be returned to the tenant within fourteen days after the tenant has vacated the premises. Of course, there are always situations that cannot be fully discussed in a short article like this, such as tenants who leave without providing notice to the landlord.
The Amount To Deposit Has A Limit
The law in Arizona places a limit, or a cap, on the amount that a landlord may legally charge as a security deposit. The security deposit may not equal more than one and a half months of rent.
An Itemization Of Deductions Must Be Provided By The Landlord
Most real estate lawyers will tell you that landlords must provide, in writing, an itemization of all deductions that have been taken from the deposit. This itemization must be done and provided to the tenant within the same fourteen-day deadline within which any remaining deposit must be returned to the tenant.
Further, all fees that are collected by a landlord in Arizona are presumed to be refundable unless they are labeled otherwise. The landlord must provide an accounting to the tenant of all the fees collected and what they were used for.
Some Items Can’t Be Deducted From The Security Deposit
The general rule is that all repair work that must be done as a result of “normal wear and tear” is to be paid by the landlord. In other words, the landlord may NOT deduct from the security deposit for things that are simply getting old or worn from correct use. This is a cost of doing business as a landlord. Repair or replacement that must be done due to “damage or excessive filth” are to be paid by the tenant and MAY be deducted from the security deposit.
What Qualifies As Damage Or Normal Wear And Tear?
And so begins the battle over what is normal wear and tear and what is damage. One can search online for general lists, but ultimately this will come down to the opinion of a Court on close calls. Most questions, however, are easily settled. Without providing an exhausting list, things that are generally considered wear and tear are things like: wearing carpet from normal use, as well as minor spotting or stains on carpet; toilets that have issues flushing or that constantly run due to worn rubber rings or warped flappers; paint fading or flaking due to exposure to sun or age; or a microwave that stops working because it’s twelve years old. Items that are considered damage or excessive filth for which a tenant would be liable would be things like: a broken window, broken refrigerator shelves, carpet that must be replaced because it has been chewed by pets, or cabinets that must be replaced due to a leak under the sink that has not been addressed. The fight over wear and tear vs. damage and excessive filth can get tricky. The general idea, however, is that tenants should be responsible to pay for anything they broke, or for things that they did beyond normal living that devalued the property. On the other side of the equation, landlords charge a price for someone to occupy their property and they are responsible for the normal deterioration or wear that one would expect to see from having someone living in a property. Maintenance costs are just part of engaging in a business that provides a property for which a business collects rent from those occupying that property.
Security Deposits Have Exceptions
It is important to note that the general rules and laws that apply to landlord/ tenant arrangements in Phoenix have some exceptions. For example, these rules do not apply the same way to college dormitories. So before filing lawsuits against a landlord or a tenant, make sure that your arrangement does not fall into one of these exceptions.
Contact A Top-Rated Real Estate Lawyer In Arizona Today
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, you have rights. The laws of Arizona are designed to protect both of these parties from abuse by the other. If you have questions about whether your rights have been violated and what kind of recourse you may have, reach out to the experienced attorneys at Gunderson, Denton, & Peterson.
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