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Rental deposits, eviction law changes considered in AZ Legislature

Posted at 6:42 PM, Mar 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-15 22:31:13-04

Renters may soon have a lot less time to dispute deposit refunds if a proposed law is adopted.

House Bill 2263 would allow renters 60 days from the end of their lease to dispute the amount of the deposit a landlord has returned to them, or waive their right to protest or in extreme cases, sue.

But Ellen Katz with the William E. Morris Institute for Justice says renters may not have even received notice within that timeframe.

"We just think it's fundamentally unfair," she says.

Katz says most renters don't realize while current law says landlords have to return deposits or an itemized list of damages to renter's within in 14 days--they are only obligated to do so after the tenant makes a demand for payment.

"They (renters) wait for their security deposit. When they don't get it they may call their landlord or call an attorney and then they're told."

She says it could be weeks or even months before the tenant ever finds out how much was deducted, which could put people well beyond the 60 day mark.

The way the proposed law is written, she says none of that would matter, "they still have lost their right to protest." 

Katz also says there is no corresponding 60 day limit for landlords included in the current bill.

"So 5 months later the landlord could sue them and the tenant would have no right to counter sue," she says.

Currently both landlords and tenants are bound by the state statutes of contractual disputes which give parties 6 years to file a legal protest.

The bill passed the House and is now being considered by the Senate.

An additional bill SB 1376 would cut the number of days a landlord has to store a tenants property after an eviction. Current law requires 21 days, the new law would change that to 14 days. Katz says for low income tenants that would make a bad situation worse.

"For many people this is all their worldly possessions," Katz says.

In addition, Katz says landlords would have the option of donating the items to charity rather and sell them to help pay the tenant's rental debt.

SB 1376 has passed the Senate and is quickly working its way through the House.

Check out the Let Joe Know Facebook Live for more our in-depth conversation about what the changes could mean for renters across Arizona.