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Bills to Tighten Rules on Renters in AZ Legislature This Week

Landlords are supporting bills to make it harder for tenants to dispute the loss of a security deposit, and shorten the amount of time abandoned property must be stored. (Wikimedia Commons)
Landlords are supporting bills to make it harder for tenants to dispute the loss of a security deposit, and shorten the amount of time abandoned property must be stored. (Wikimedia Commons)
March 6, 2018

PHOENIX – Two bills to tighten up rules on renters are up for debate in the Arizona Legislature this week - and anti-poverty groups are fighting to defeat them.

Senate Bill 1376, which gets a vote in the full House of Representatives this afternoon, would give renters who leave property behind just two weeks to remove it and pay storage fees before the landlord can sell or donate it.

Shannon Schell, executive director of the Protecting Arizona's Family Coalition, says people used to have three weeks to get their belongings.

"We do have to protect the rights of tenants," Schell says. "We don't want people to be taken advantage of. And while these are minor changes, those kinds of things can add up over time and can really hurt those who are trying to rent."

The bill also gives landlords the right to immediately put any pets left behind in an animal shelter. The proposal already has passed the state Senate. Landlords have complained that tenants sometimes abused the old rules, abandoning their possessions for weeks and then demanding to get them back.

On Monday afternoon, the state Senate Commerce and Public Safety Committee passed HB 2263, which sets a limit of 60 days for tenants to dispute any money that their landlord withholds from the security deposit.

Schell says before, there was no time limit on fighting to get a deposit back.

"We just want to give tenants enough time so that they're not being penalized, or are able to get their security deposit back if they rightfully should," she explains.

The full House passed the bill three weeks ago, and it still has to pass the full Senate. The median rent in Arizona as of 2015 was $933 a month, which represents almost 22 percent of the state's median income.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - AZ