Don’t Forget To Account For The Deposit
From time to time we meet property owners who forget to account to former tenants for their security deposits. Unfortunately, without the proper assistance of an attorney this oversight could end up in a lawsuit and damages imposed against the landlord.
Arizona law is very specific as to the management of security deposits. Arizona Revised Statutes 33-1321 states in pertinent part:
D. Within fourteen days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays or other legal holidays, after termination of the tenancy and delivery of possession and demand by the tenant the landlord shall provide the tenant an itemized list of all deductions together with the amount due and payable to the tenant, if any. Unless other arrangements are made in writing by the tenant, the landlord shall mail the itemized list and any amount due, by first class mail, to the tenant’s last known place of residence.
E. If the landlord fails to comply with subsection D of this section the tenant may recover the property and money due the tenant together with damages in an amount equal to twice the amount wrongfully withheld.
Following the termination of a tenancy, delivery of possession and demand by the tenant the landlord must send the former tenant, within 14 working days, a statement of how the security deposit was used or applied. One of the key terms in the statute is itemized statement. A simple or vague description may not be sufficient to inform the tenant or comply with the statute.
If a landlord wants to avoid a potential dispute over security deposits it is crucial that she send a detailed statement. Arizona law allows the owner to apply the security deposit to things like unpaid rent, damages to the property and other charges owed under the lease. However, as previously stated these charges must be written with appropriate details to the former tenant.
The statute only requires that the statement be mailed via first class mail to the last known address which in many cases is the former residence. While the costs for certified mail may be more we recommend sending it via certified mail so that you can keep track and verify compliance with the mailing requirement if the need arises.
If you run into any issues dealing with security deposits feel free to contact our office at 480-656-8333 or email me at [email protected].