New law sets deadlines on security deposits

BY: JUDGE GERALD A. WILLIAMS

NORTH VALLEY JUSTICE OF THE PEACE

In the most recent legislative session, a new law that protects sexual assault victims was passed when Governor Doug Ducey signed House Bill 2651.

 

It was already the law that a domestic violence victim could break their lease. This bill will extend this protection to sexual assault victims now. However, it also did something significant concerning security deposits when it amended A.R.S. § 33-1321.

 

Under current law after moving out if the tenant requests their security deposit back then the landlord must either give it back, or mail an itemized list of everything subtracted from the deposit for property damage within 14 days.

 

The new Arizona law imposes a critical deadline on tenants. If the tenant doesn’t dispute their former landlord’s deductions from their security deposit within 60 days then the landlord’s calculations are considered to be valid, and the tenants waives his or her right to object.

 

This is a significant change. In reality, former tenants don’t even have 60 days because the 60 day period is counted from the date that the former landlord mails the itemized list.

 

The rest of the law is the same.   The landlord still must return the balance of the security deposit within 14 days. If the landlord does not do so, the tenant can still file suit in a justice court and may recover twice the amount wrongfully withheld.

 

The critical change is that now someone must dispute their former landlord’s math within 60 days.

 

There is no standardized method for requesting the return of a security deposit, but I recommend that you use the form letter on the Maricopa County Justice Courts’ web page to do so. It is available at:    http:// justicecourts. maricopa.gov/ Forms/request_ Return_Security_ Deposit.pdf

 

This new law became effective on August 3, 2018.

 

 

Judge Gerald Williams is the Justice of the Peace for the North Valley Justice Court. His column appears monthly in The Foothills Focus.