A new bill aimed at closing a big loophole in landlord-renter relationships is likely to pass and be signed into law very quickly in Arizona. That means big changes for renters who had the upper hand in the situation before now.
Under the current law, there was no time limit on a renter to bring a dispute over a security deposit into court. Security deposits are cash guarantees that a renter will leave the property pretty much as he or she found it — minus reasonable wear and tear.
They are a frequent source of conflict between landlords and renters when renters move out. Landlords, eager to keep the deposits sometimes charge former tenants for the most minor things. Even if a tenant kept the rental in pristine condition and cleaned it carefully when moving out, landlords may charge them excessive fees for small things. For example, a landlord might charge a former tenant $200 for something like wiping down the freezer compartment if a tenant forgot or washing the revolving tray from the microwave.
On the other hand, tenants sometimes strike back. Some justifiably demand their deposits back when landlords overcharge, demanding proof of expenditures for cleaning and repairs. Others gamble that a landlord won’t be able to prove the damage or expenses of a clean-up, even if the place really was left a mess.
In Arizona, renters had an unlimited amount of time to demand their security deposits back. It didn’t matter if they waited one year or five. They could challenge a bill against their security deposit and force the landlord to either go into court with receipts or hand over the money.
Under the newly-proposed law, renters would only be granted 60 days to demand the security deposit back. Depending on the final version of the bill that passes, the clock could start ticking as early as the day the tenant gives notice — which could be weeks before a landlord even looks at the place. There’s an amendment that would push the start date on the 60-day limit back to the day the landlord sends an itemized bill for fees against the security deposit, but there’s no telling if it will end up in the law. Initially, legislatures proposed only giving tenants 14 days to act.
No matter what happens, it’s definitely an issue that both landlords and tenants need to watch.
Source: azcentral.com, “Apartment security deposits could soon be even harder to get back in Arizona,” Rebekah L. Sanders, March 13, 2018