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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 29572
Experience:  Attorney
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Had a tenant years. 3 months after they moved in the garbage

Customer Question

Had a tenant for 2 years. 3 months after they moved in the garbage disposal that was in great working condition and not more than 4 years old broke. I had it replaced because it was not fixable at the time. They moved out on July 30th and I presented the itemized deduction for their security deposit that included the parts and labor for the garbage disposal, the cost to fix the patio gate which was not a problem before they moved in and yard clean up which per lease was their responsibility. They are contesting ALL the deductions stating
1. the garbage disposal falls under normal were and tear
2. I never mentioned to them that they would be responsible for the garbage disposal costs.
3. I did not tell them about the patio gate during the walk through (the husband who was present did not follow me in the yard when i was assessing the condition)
4. They did some cleanup (however the plant debris was not done between the plants, yard to completely cleaned etc) and the charge of $100 is excessive (it is Arizona in the summer heat)
Wife is demanding all my invoices, photos, receipts otherwise she is taking me to small claims court to get the $287 which was deducted. I have referenced the AZ ARS statutes and referenced the itemized deduction list that I provided her and there were items on therefor which I absorbed the cost such as the broken sink and lighting fixture. What recourse do I have?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

My name is ***** ***** I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.
The statute of limitations in Arizona for property damage is two years. A landlord is allowed to charge a tenant for any items they broke through negligence or intentional acts, and a garbage disposal breaking generally isn't wear and tear. With that said, you have to prorate the deduction - figure out how long a garbage disposal is supposed to last, then reduce the charges based on how long you had it. For example, if a disposal is SUPPOSED to last 10 years, and you got 4 years use out of it, they caused you to replace it 6 years early and are responsible for 6/10 of the cost, or 3/5. The fact that you didn't ask them to pay earlier doesn't mean you can't, as long as you're within the statute of limitations.
The fact that you didn't mention the patio gate during the walk through does not prohibit you from deducting the cost of repairing it. But you unfortunately cannot charge extra for outdoor cleanup because it's hot in Arizona unless you had to pay a company and that's what they charged you.
In court, you will be required to produce invoices, photos, receipts, etc. That means there is no benefit to you in withholding them now, because providing it could help you avoid getting sued. You also should know that if they do sue and the judge rules against you, you could be ordered to pay twice the amount you kept, or $564. Keep that in mind when negotiating with them.
If you have any questions or concerns about my response, please reply WITHOUT RATING. It's important that you are 100% satisfied with my courtesy and professionalism. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so I am paid for the time I spend answering questions. If you are on a mobile device, you may need to scroll to the right. There is no charge for follow-up questions. Thank you.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks Lucy, I will prorate the garbage disposal. I did speak more with the handyman and he cold go down on his proc which will help. I am only charging them what he has charged me. I have already shared photos with them. Receipts I do knothole because this is owned by the handy man. I have already in the past shared the invoice for the work done by the man who fixed the garbage disposal but blocked off his name or contact information for obvious reasons. I can do so for the other guy. So is it ok to state in my rebuttal again that replacement is NOT wear and tear and that regardless of my informing them in October of 2013 that I am still within the statute of limitations. Thanks for your assistance.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
You're welcome.
Yes, you can state that they broke the disposal and that it's not wear and tear. Any documentation from the repairman that says how it broke can help your case.
There's no need to redact the repairman's name and business address or name of the business. They have a right to contact him to confirm that the work was done, and providing that information actually gives you credibility.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
One last question. I am no longer in the country and my former tenant is no longer in the state of the rental. Additionally the rental was done through my LLC and all rent deposited into he business account. Where does one file a small claims case if not in the state of the rental and does it matter?
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Your tenant can sue you in the county where the property's located. The expenses of traveling to the courthouse (or pay a lawyer to appear for you) may be something else to consider when deciding whether to try to settle.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Settling would be I take on the full responsibility of what they did. I ended up refunding them $106.23, based on prorating the garbage disposal and then the handy man just gifted the yard clean up. So only charging them for the garbage disposal and the patio far and $20 worth of yard work which is a ridiculous price. It's a matter of principle for me I guess. Every tenant loves to think they are stellar smhI have asked them to provide a bank account so that I can submit the refund difference. If I don't hear from them I will mail it. Now this amount does it fall within the 14 day AZ laws? 14 days for security deposit refund will be the 20th 😳
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
I know how you feel.
The statute says that all monies due the tenant must be mailed within the 14 days or they get double damages. Mailing the money by the 20th day will help you avoid getting hit with a judgment for more than you kept.

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