Arizona Security Deposit Returns & Deductions

Arizona Security Deposit Returns & Deductions

Last Updated: January 12, 2023 by Ashley Porter

Quick Facts Answer
Acceptable Deductions
  • Unpaid rent, utilities, and late fees
  • Costs of damage
  • Damages due to tenant’s noncompliance
  • Charges outlined in the lease
Return Deadline 14 Business Days
Itemized Deductions Required
Penalty for Late Return 3x Amount Wrongfully Withheld

For laws on security deposit collections and holdings in Arizona, click here.

Security Deposit Deductions in Arizona

In Arizona, the following things can be deducted from security deposits:

  • Unpaid rent, utilities, and late fees
  • Costs of damage excluding normal wear and tear
  • Damages due to tenant’s noncompliance with the law
  • Other charges as outlined in the lease

Most states, such as Arizona, do not have a legal limit on how much a landlord can charge for damages except that the charges must be reasonable.

If the cost of the damages exceeds the amount of the security deposit, landlords are entitled to seek additional damages from the former tenant.

What is Considered Normal Wear & Tear vs Damage in Arizona?

Normal wear and tear is damage that is expected when a rental unit is used in a normal way, such as gently worn carpets and faded walls. Damage is the destruction caused by abusive or negligent use of a rental unit, like ripped carpets and heavily stained walls.

“Normal wear and tear” is deterioration that occurs naturally as a result of the tenant using the property as it was designed to be used.

Examples include:

  • Gently worn carpets
  • Lightly scratched glass
  • Faded paint and flooring
  • Lightly dirtied grout
  • Loose door handles
  • Stained bath fixtures

“Damage” means destruction to the rental unit that occurs because of abuse or negligence by a tenant during the course of the tenancy.

Examples include:

  • Heavily stained, burned, or torn carpets
  • Broken tiles or windows
  • Holes in the wall
  • Missing fixtures

Can the Landlord Charge for Replacing the Carpet in Arizona?

Yes, landlords can charge for replacing the carpet if it is damaged beyond normal wear and tear.

Some wear and tear on a rental unit’s carpet is expected after normal day-to-day use of the property. For example, carpets typically become discolored, indented, or gently worn, when used in a normal way. However, non-typical, abusive use of carpet results in rips, visible stains, or burns. Landlords have the right to charge the tenant for the replacement of the carpet in areas where serious damage has occurred.

Can the Landlord Charge for Nail Holes in Arizona?

Yes, landlords can charge a tenant for nail holes if they damage the walls in a way that is not a result of ordinary enjoyment of the rental unit.

Tenants have the right to use the walls within their unit in a reasonable way. This includes inserting small nails or thumbtacks to hang posters or pictures. However, large holes from drilling, multiple nail holes, large nail holes, and holes made for hanging heavier things may be considered damage and thus, chargeable to the tenant.

Can the Landlord Charge a Cleaning Fee in Arizona?

Landlords in Arizona can charge a non-refundable, reasonable cleaning fee if it is specifically stated in the lease agreement. However, a cleaning fee is not considered part of the security deposit. Landlords can make deductions from the security deposit for cleaning, but only if the tenant causes damage that requires cleaning (e.g. wine stains on the carpet).

Can the Landlord Charge for Painting in Arizona?

Yes, in Arizona, landlords can charge for painting, except for normal wear and tear. For example, if the tenant:

  • Causes damage beyond normal wear and tear
  • Repaints the wall but is not permitted to do so under the lease agreement
  • Repaints the wall in an unprofessional way

Normal wear includes minor scrapes from daily use, fading due to sunlight, or minor cracks in the original paint. Landlords can charge for repainting if the damage is not the result of normal use. This includes stains, large or deep scratches, and water damage.

Can a Security Deposit Be Used for Last Month’s Rent in Arizona?

Arizona law does not forbid the security deposit from being used for any outstanding rent.

Landlords can include a provision in the lease agreement that the security deposit cannot be used for the last month’s rent until the tenant vacates the rental unit.

Security Deposit Returns in Arizona

Landlords in Arizona must return a security deposit by first-class mail with a written statement of deductions (if any) to the tenant’s last known address (unless other arrangements are made) no later than 14 business days after the required conditions have been met.

If requested by the tenant, the landlord must allow the tenant to be present at the move-out inspection.

How Long Do Landlords Have to Return Security Deposits in Arizona?

Arizona landlords have 14 business days to return any unused portion of the security deposit. The period begins once all three of these events have occurred:

  • The tenancy terminates
  • The tenant requests the security deposit
  • The tenant vacates the rental unit

Do Landlords Owe Interest on Security Deposits in Arizona?

Arizona law does not require landlords to provide interest on held security deposits unless the security deposit is for the rental of a mobile home, in which at least 5% annual interest must be provided.

How Do Landlords Give Notice / What Information Do They Have to Provide in Arizona?

If deductions are to be made from the security deposit, a written statement of deductions must be sent by first-class mail to the tenant’s last known address, unless otherwise agreed in writing.

The tenant must dispute the deductions within 60 days after the written statement of deductions was mailed or else they waive their right to make a claim.

Security Deposit Disputes in Arizona

If landlords do not return the security deposit within the required time period, tenants can file a claim in court for up to three times the amount wrongfully withheld.

Tenants can also take legal action against a landlord for:

  • Failure to provide written notice that lists deductions if the security deposit is not returned in full
  • Unreasonable deductions

How Can Tenants File a Dispute for a Security Deposit in Arizona?

If a landlord fails to perform their obligations regarding a security deposit, the tenant can file a dispute in the small claims division of Justice Court if the amount of damages is less than $3,500. If the amount is greater, the tenant must file a civil case in Justice Court.

A small claims case regarding the return of a security deposit must be filed within one to six years depending on the type of case.

Cases are filed in the Justice Court where the property is located or where the plaintiff or defendant lives. An attorney is not required but is permitted if both parties agree in writing. The filing fee is $25.

Our website provides more information about the process of filing a dispute in Small Claims Court.

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