Arizona Real Estate Law Requires Written Notice for Non-Return of Security Deposit

A couple moved into an apartment in East Phoenix last year and signed a one-year lease and paid a $1,200 security deposit to the landlord. The lease ended last month and they moved out of the apartment. The apartment was left spotless, and when they asked the property manager for the return of our $1,200 security deposit. The property manager later said that the landlord inspected our apartment, and had told the property manager not to return our $1,200 security deposit because there was major damage done to the apartment. They think the landlord is just trying to keep the $1,200 security deposit. They had never talked to the landlord, and on had only two conversations with the property manager who know refuses to return their telephone calls. What rights do these people have to get their $1,200 security deposit back?

According to Arizona real estate law, the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act provides that, after a residential lease has terminated and the tenant has requested the return of the security deposit, the landlord is required to deliver a written notice to the tenant within 14 days specifying in detail the reasons for withholding all or part of the security deposit. A.R.S. §33-1321. If the landlord fails to timely deliver this 14-day notice to a tenant, the tenant is entitled to file a lawsuit to recover damages of three times the amount of the security deposit. Therefore, the couple should be entitled to recover $3,600 (three times the $1,200) in damages from the landlord in a justice court lawsuit. Note: if the landlord is correct and they did major damage to the apartment amounting to more than the $1,200 security deposit, the landlord will not only owe them nothing, the landlord will be entitled to get a judgment against them for any damage in excess of the $1,200 security deposit.

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