Refund of security deposit - best way to approach the landlord

takuApril 19, 2008

HereÂs the situation. I moved out of the house I was renting at the end of March, and I performed a walk-through with the landlord on last day of March. The landlord was given 30 days written notice, as required per the terms of the agreement (the landlord at first seemed confused, and thought that I wanted to move out at the end of AprilÂ). During the walk-through the landlord noticed that I used the touch-up paint that came with the house, to paint over where I filled in the nail holes with drywall filler (wall is a different color than the filler). It was noticed that by the landlord that the paint didnÂt quite match the color of the wall, and he said that he would have to repaint the walls I used the touch-up paint, and that he would have to deduct the cost of repainting from my security deposit. I said, let me see what you paid for this if youÂre going to deduct anything (as required per the Arizona Tenant law), and he said "fine." Per the tenant law in Arizona, the landlord has 14 business days to refund the tenantÂs deposit, or the former tenant may sue for damages in small claims court. Furthermore, the landlord is allowed to counterclaim the tenant if thereÂs a claim for damages, past due rents, ECT. What would be the best approach to this situation, as the landlord acts like he doesnÂt understand the wording of the law, and I havenÂt received either the deposit or a list of a list of damages as required by law?

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The question that you need to settle is whether any "damage" to the walls falls under the heading of normal wear and tear. He can't keep keep your security deposit for anything that falls under normal wear and tear.

How long did you live in the place? Would the landlord have had to paint the place when you moved out anyhow? If you lived there for a while and the paint was faded, he probably would have had to paint, and you shouldn't have to pay for it.

Here's a couple of links that explain the issue:

    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 12:10AM
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I lived there for a little over a year. If the landlord is going to deduct from the security deposit, then I'm demanding the the landlord give me what I'm entitled to under the law, which is an itemized list of damages deducted from my security deposit (I just want to move on and get the jerk out of my life...but not at the expense of getting burned out more than a $1K). The landlord was given my forwarding address, but I've received no correspondence from him since the walk-through. I have a suspicion the landlord may be broke and cannot refund the deposit.
My question is do I need to start to tighten the screws and send him a certified letter letting to the landlord informing the landlord that I know of my rights, and that I will take the landlord to court if I do my receive my refund by X number of days? I've got a gut feeling that is what may happen, but I'd rather avoid court if at all possible.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 1:48AM
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I'd definitely send the certified letter. I don't think that falls under the category of "tightening the screws," it's just a matter of wanting a written record in case you do need to go to court. Look for a tenants' right organization online for your state and read up. Around here the landlord has to refund your security deposit within 30 days after you move out... with interest.

After you read up and find out what your rights are in your state, write him a letter telling him EXACTLY what you expect. It sounds like he's not really up on tenant/landlord issues, so telling him exactly what you expect from him under the law will probably be very helpful. Tell him:

My security deposit was $X. With interest, the balance should be $X. The cost of repainting the apartment should not cost more than $X. I expect to receive a check for no less than $X by X date.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 8:35PM
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You asked to for the best way to approach your landlord so I'm going to offer my .02 on that: don't go in with all barrels blasting in your first letter. Landlord's deadline was 4/18 (per statute I read, which excludes Sat, Sun and legal holidays). As of your post he was one day late. Landlords are people with lives, too, and it does bother me in this business that the "human" factor is left out, for both landlords and tenants. (I know, there are a lot of jerks on both sides of the fence out there, but there are a lot of nice normal folks, too.) The reason I'm suggesting you ease into this is because anything could have interfered. Job loss, loss of a loved one, diagnosis of severe illness, etc. Life happens, even to landlords. ;)

I would encourage you to send your first letter certified, quote the statute, list the statute (Article 2, Sec 33-1321 D) and ask that landlord respond to it with specifics that you're seeking within x number of days. No threat of court or attorneys. If you don't get a response, then 'tighten the screws' as you say.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 7:38AM
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Actually, if the touch-up paint was supplied by the landlord, I think I'd argue that any need to repaint because it doesn't match shouldn't be my problem.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 6:39PM
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Well the landlord sent me the remainder of the deposit, but he didn't bother with an itemized list of deductions (that I had requested in writing, and it is required by Arizona law). He included a handwritten note reading that he deducted for hiring a painter and for cleaning the carpets (I'm left to guess at both the amount he paid, and if he even bothered to hire someone to do the job). I just hope the check he sent doesn't bounce.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 12:24AM
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