Question: We have been renting a home in Surprise. Due to damage from a severe monsoon storm ten days ago, we have not been able to get back into the home. The landlord says that we may not be able to get back into the home for another three months. We are currently staying in a small apartment with my sister and her husband, and we have moved our furniture into storage. Our landlord has our $2,000 security deposit. What do we do now with our landlord?
Answer: When a monsoon, fire, or other disaster “substantially” damages a rental home, A.R.S. § 33-1366 states that a tenant can immediately move out of the rental home. Within fourteen days after moving out, the tenant must notify the landlord in writing that the tenant wants to terminate the lease. The lease will then terminate as of the date of moving out by the tenant. Therefore, you should notify the landlord now that you are cancelling the lease and are demanding a return of your security deposit. The landlord must refund to you any rent paid by you for the last ten days. In addition, the landlord must return to you the $2,000 security deposit.
Note: If there is only “partial” damage to a rental home from a monsoon, fire, or other disaster, and the home is still habitable, the landlord must reduce the rent proportionately to the loss in value of the rental home due to partial damage.