Landlords generally prefer to stay out of small claims court whenever possible, but filing a civil action is sometimes the only way to recoup financial losses caused by irresponsible tenants who inflict significant damage on the rental unit. One of the many benefits of working with a home rental company in Mesa, AZ, is that its property management services can eliminate or greatly reduce the possibility of a security deposit failing to cover the cost of repairs. For starters, real estate management professionals screen prospective tenants thoroughly to ensure that only responsible individuals can rent from you. When repairs are needed or legal action must be taken, property management providers can coordinate these services.
Itemizing the Damages
Arizona state law requires landlords or their property managers to either provide the full security deposit to ex-tenants no later than 14 days of the move-out day or to provide an itemized statement of expenses for which the security deposit was used by the same deadline. The itemized statement may include expenses for cleaning, back rent, repairs, or any other costs and obligations specified in the lease agreement. Since the security deposit does not cover your total cost to get the apartment back in good condition, it should specify exactly how much the ex-tenant still owes.
Writing a Demand Letter
When you or your property manager sends the itemized statement to the ex-tenant, it should be accompanied by a demand letter. The demand letter should include information such as the fact that the security deposit did not cover the full cost of cleaning or repairs. The letter should demand that the individual pay the full balance owed by a certain date. It should also notify the individual of your right to take him or her to small claims court if an agreement is not reached.
Deciding Whether to Go to Court
If you do not receive the full payment, it’s time to decide whether you truly want to take the tenant to court . Consider whether you have sufficient evidence to prove that the tenant is indeed responsible for the damage, such as “before” and “after” photographs. Consider whether the amount the tenant owes is greater than your legal fees are likely to be. You may wish to speak with your property manager or a lawyer about the situation before making your decision.