The Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act applies to the lease for an apartment, a house or a mobile home. Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1301 - 33-1377. If the lease is for a space in a mobile home park, then a different set of laws apply. Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1401 - 33-1501 and Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1341 & 33-1344. Under Arizona law, some things are illegal to put into a lease. For example, a landlord cannot let someone live somewhere rent free in return for not maintaining the property. Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1316. A landlord also cannot refuse to rent a place to someone because they have children. Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1317. A landlord is also required to register the property with the county assessor and list the property owner's name, address and telephone number. Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1902. A tenant must pay the rent and must pay that rent on time. If a tenant does not pay the rent, the landlord will likely start an eviction action. There is no provision in Arizona law that allows a tenant to withhold rent because the landlord is being disagreeable or because a landlord broke oral promises to a tenant. Except as is explained below, a tenant may not withhold rent.
In addition to the obligation to pay rent on time, a tenant must do the following under Arizona law. Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1341 & 33-1344.
Access by Landlord to Residence Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1343
A tenant cannot unreasonably keep the landlord from going into the residence to inspect it or to make repairs. However, unless there is an emergency or unless it is impractical to do so, the landlord must give the tenant at least two days notice that he is going to enter the residence. The landlord can also only enter at reasonable times.
A landlord is required to do the following under Arizona law. Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1322 - 1323, 1324.
Security Deposits Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1321
Moving In A landlord can require that the tenant make a security deposit to cover any potential damages made to the property. The amount of the security deposit cannot be more that one and one-half month's rent. When the tenant moves in, the landlord must give the tenant a signed copy of the lease, a form recording any damages to the property, and a written notice that the tenant may be present at the move out inspection. Moving Out The tenant is required to ask the landlord when the move out inspection will occur. If a tenant requests the security deposit back after he or she has moved out, the landlord must within 14 days, either give it back or mail an itemized list of everything subtracted from the deposit for property damage. Any amount left over must be given to the tenant at that time. If the landlord does not do so, the tenant can file suit in a justice court and may recover twice the amount wrongfully withheld. Click here for a sample request.
Tenant Options if Landlord Is Not Following The Lease
Self-Help for Minor Defects Arizona Revised Statutes. § 33-1363 If a landlord fails to make repairs and the problem can be fixed for either less than $300 or an amount equal to one-half of the monthly rent (whichever is greater), the tenant can notify the landlord that he is going to repair the problem at the landlord's expense. The notification must be in writing. If the landlord does not fix the problem within 10 days from receiving notice, the tenant can hire a licensed contractor, submit a repair bill to the landlord, and deduct the cost of the repair work from his rent. This provision does not apply if the damage was caused by the tenant or one of his guests. Click here for a sample notice. Failure to Supply Essential Services Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1364 If a landlord fails to provide running water, gas and/or electrical service, or fails to provide reasonable amounts of hot water, heat and/or cooling, then the tenant may give notice to the landlord that he is in breach of the lease. (Click here for a sample notice.) At that point, the tenant has one of the following options. Option One: The tenant can arrange for utilities on his own and deduct the cost from the rent. With the utility company's approval, a tenant group or group of tenants can pay a landlord's delinquent utility bill and deduct that amount from their rent. Option Two: The tenant can file suit and recover damages based on the decreased fair rental value of the residence. Option Three: The tenant can find suitable housing (e.g. a motel) during the period of the landlord's noncompliance. If this occurs, the tenant is excused from paying rent for as long as the landlord does not provide the essential service. Other Noncompliance by the Landlord Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1361 If the landlord fails to comply with the lease in a material way, the tenant can deliver a written notice to the landlord explaining the failure and stating that the lease will terminate in 10 days. If the landlord's noncompliance is materially affecting the tenant's health and safety, then the same notice can state that the lease will end in 5 days. There are two exceptions. First, if the problem can be fixed before the date specified on the notice, then the lease will continue. Second, the problem cannot have been caused by the tenant or his guest.
Military Orders and Lease Provisions
Domestic Violence Victims and Lease Provisions Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1318
If a tenant is a victim of domestic violence, he/she can break his/her lease if he/she provides written notice to his/her landlord. As proof, the tenant should provide either a copy of the Order of Protection or the police report. If the landlord requests, the tenant must provide documentation showing the Order of Protection has been submitted to be served. If the tenant falsely claims to be a victim of domestic violence in order to end his/her lease early, he/she may be charged with a criminal offense and may have to pay his/her landlord treble damages.
There are two types of eviction actions. Under the rules that govern eviction actions, an eviction is a type of lawsuit called a forcible or special detainer. A special detainer means that the tenant has remained in or on the property after the landlord has given written notice that the rental agreement has been terminated and that the tenant must leave the property. A landlord can file an eviction action against a tenant for nonpayment of rent, if the tenant has breached the lease, or if the tenant has committed a crime. Eviction actions seek the eviction of the tenant and the repossession of the rental property. They may also be filed if the tenant misrepresented information to the landlord or has unauthorized occupants in the residence. Most eviction actions involve an allegation that the tenant has not paid rent on time. If a tenant fails to pay rent, the landlord can give notice that he will terminate the lease if the rent is not paid within5 days. After the 5 day notice, the landlord will most likely not be willing to accept partial payment because he will not be able to proceed with the case unless the tenant agrees in writing that the landlord can do so. Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1371. On day six, the landlord can file suit. The tenant's inability to pay the rent is not a legal defense to the lawsuit. However, the tenant does have some options. The tenant can pay all of the rent and any late fees any time before the lawsuit is filed and avoid eviction. If the eviction action has been filed, then the tenant must pay all past due rent, late fees, attorney's fees and court costs. If the tenant does so before a judgment is entered, he can avoid eviction. After a judgment has been entered, reinstatement of the lease is solely in the landlord's discretion. As a general rule, the only defense to an allegation of nonpayment of rent is that the rent was actually paid, in the manner and in the amount provided in the lease. What Must Be In The Lawsuit and Other Court Documents Eviction cases are governed by the Arizona Rules of Procedure for Eviction Actions. The lawsuit consists of two main documents. The summons tells the tenant when and where to appear. The complaint tells the tenant what the landlord is requesting. The rules require that a total of four documents be served on the tenant: (1) The Summons; (2) Residential Eviction Information Sheet; (3) The Complaint and (4) A copy of any notice must be attached to the complaint. The landlord must pay the filing fee. After the tenant receives these documents, he or she should file an answer. The answer form gives the tenant several options to check and explain his or her position. The tenant will have to pay an answer fee. If the tenant is unable to afford the answer, the tenant may apply for a waiver of that fee. If the tenant believes that the landlord owes him money, then the tenant may file a counterclaim.
What Will Happen In Court?
Eviction cases are similar to other kinds of lawsuits; however, they move through the court system very quickly. A trial will occur on the date listed on the summons. However, if the tenant fails to appear, and the landlord or his attorney is present, then a judgment will most likely be entered against the tenant. At the date and time listed on the summons, the justice of the peace will start calling cases. If both parties are there, the judge will ask the tenant whether the complaint is true. If the tenant says that the complaint is untrue, then the tenant will need to briefly tell the judge why. If the reason appears to be a legal defense, then the judge will need to take testimony from both sides and make a decision after a trial. If either side needs a delay, they may ask for it but continuances will be granted for no more than 3 business days. A tenant can avoid the hassle, expense and embarrassment associated with a writ of restitution by turning in the keys to the landlord. Doing so ends the tenant's possession of the residence.
Appeal from a Judgment
A tenant may appeal an eviction (forcible detainer) judgment to superior court, Within 5 days from the date of the judgment, the tenant must do the following.
Additional Information for Landlords and Tenants (Mobile Home Spaces)
Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1452E(3), Special Rules on Leases
The initial tenancy must be in writing. Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1413A. The tenant, but not the landlord, can demand a four year lease. Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1413K. A four year lease does not necessarily freeze rent but it will allow the tenant to know how much rent will be due over the next four years. Rent increases are highly regulated by statute. When a lease expires, the landlord can unilaterally increase rent by giving the tenant a 90 day notice of the new amount. Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1413G; Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1432F. If the new rent exceeds 10% of the Consumer Price Index, then the tenant becomes eligible for relocation assistance from the State Mobile Home Relocation Fund. Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1476.04. Late charges of 5 dollars per day are allowed if rent is not paid by the seventh of the month. Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1414C. Consequently, if rent is paid by the 6th, there is no late charge; after that, the fee is 5 dollars per day retroactive to the rental due date.
Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1414A(4). Termination Notices
Rather than a 5 day notice, a seven day notice for non-payment of rent is required. Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1465E. If there is a non-compliance that does not involve health and safety, then the tenant has 14 days to cure it or 30 days to move out. Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1476D(1). If there is a non-compliance that involves health and safety, then the tenant has 10 days to cure it or 20 days to move out. Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1476D(2). If there is an immediate and irreparable breach, then an immediate written notice "may" be delivered. Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-14765D(3).