Tue Jul 29 2014   
 

Arizona Residential Landlord - Tenant Law

Leah Sandwell-Weiss

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This guide provides general information regarding the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. In addition to the state law, cities within the state may also have their own Landlord and Tenant laws that expand upon state laws. This not a comprehensive discussion of the area of law. It is not intended to replace the advice of counsel. You are encouraged to seek legal counsel from an attorney who can provide you with legal advice specific to your situation and location.

Does the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act apply to me?

The Act, A.R.S. §§ 33-1301 to 33-1381, applies if you are renting a residential dwelling unit, i.e., a house or an apartment. If you rent a mobile home, you are covered by the Arizona Mobile Home Parks Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, A.R.S. §§ 33-1401 to 33-1491. The other major set of Landlord and Tenant statutes, A.R.S. §§ 33-301 to 33-381, is designed primarily for commercial or real property landlord - tenant relationships.

Are there any exceptions to the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act?

Yes, besides the types of leases mentioned above, A.R.S. § 33-1308 lists seven exceptions. These include such things as residence or occupancy of dormitory rooms, fraternity or sorority houses, hotel rooms, and public housing.

Can a landlord refuse to rent to someone?

Landlords can refuse to rent as long as the refusal is not based on an improper reason. For example, landlords cannot refuse to rent to families with children unless the rental dwelling is in a subdivision or area which is restricted to adults only by formal deed restrictions or which qualifies as housing for older persons under the Fair Housing Act. A.R.S. § 33-1317.

Federal and state laws also prohibit the refusal to rent to someone because of his or her race, color, religion, sex, familial status, handicap, or national origin. See 42 U.S.C. § 3604 for the federal statute and A.R.S. §§ 41-1491.14 and 41-1491.19 for the state statutes.

What do tenants need to know about security deposits?

The maximum amount that a security deposit can be is one and one-half months rent in addition to the first month's rent. A.R.S. § 33-1321(A). Security deposits do not include charges for cleaning or redecorating the unit. A.R.S. § 33-1310(14).

Within fourteen business days after termination of tenancy, landlords must refund either all of the security deposit or the remainder of the security deposit after taking deductions. If deductions are taken, the landlord must also provide a written itemized list. A.R.S. § 33-1321(D). If the landlord fails to comply, then the tenant can receive damages in an amount equal to twice the amount wrongfully withheld. A.R.S. § 33-1321(E). Landlords must also give written notification that the tenant may be present during the move-out inspection that will be used to determine itemized deductions from the deposit. A.R.S. § 33-1321(C). However, the landlord does not have to meet this requirement if he or she is evicting the tenant for a material and irreparable breach and he or she has reasonable cause to fear violence or intimidation by the tenant. A.R.S. § 33-1321(C).

What must a landlord provide to a tenant upon move-in?

What are a landlord's rights in collecting rents and setting rent amounts?

If a tenant fails to pay rent promptly, the landlord may collect all reasonable charges specified in the rental agreement. A.R.S. § 33-1368(C). When tenants have fallen behind in their rent payments, landlords must notify the tenants that they have five calendar days in which to pay past due rent or the rental agreement will be terminated. A.R.S. § 33-1368(B). The notice must either be hand delivered to the tenant or sent to the tenant by certified or registered mail. A.R.S. § 33-1313(B).

Landlords cannot raise the rent to specifically retaliate against a tenant for complaining about housing code violations, for joining a tenant union, or for complaining about failure to keep the dwelling fit. A.R.S. § 33-1381.

Landlords don't have to accept partial rent payments. If they do without getting a written agreement stating when the remainder is due along with any other terms, they waive their rights to terminate the rental agreement for that particular breach of the rental agreement. A.R.S. § 33-1371.

Can a landlord create rules and regulations that apply to tenants?

Yes. Specific requirements to adopt such rules and regulations are set forth in A.R.S. § 33-1342(A). These rules cannot have the purpose of evading the landlord's obligations. New rules require 30 days' notice to existing tenants. A.R.S. § 33-1342(B).

When can a landlord enter a tenant's residence?

If a landlord provides two days' advance notice of his or her intent to enter the resident at a reasonable time to make repairs, alterations, decorations, or improvements, tenants can't unreasonably refuse to allow landlords into their residences. In case of emergency, however, landlords can enter without consent and without notice. Landlords are prohibited from abusing this right or using it to harass the tenant. A.R.S. § 33-1343.

What obligation does a landlord have in maintaining the residence and premises?

In general, landlords must provide safe, clean and habitable residences. Among other things, they must comply with building codes concerning health and safety (A.R.S. § 33-1324(A)(1)); maintain all appliances must be in working order (A.R.S. § 33-1324(A)(4)); and provide running water, reasonable amounts of hot water, and heating and air-conditioning when required by the weather (A.R.S. § 33-1324(A)(6)). If a landlord fails to comply with his or her obligations, and the cost of compliance would have been $300.00 or less, the tenant may recover damages for the breach under A.R.S. § 33-1361(B) or may notify the landlord of the tenant's intention to correct the condition at the landlord's expense. A.R.S. § 33-1363(A). This process, called "self-help for minor defects," is outlined further in A.R.S. § 33-1363. If a landlord deliberately or negligently fails to provide water, gas or electrical services, a tenant has several remedies that are outlined in A.R.S. § 33-1364.

What are a tenant's duties to a landlord?

Tenants have a duty to maintain the dwelling unit. This includes such things as complying with applicable provisions of building codes, keeping his or her part of the unit clean, using appliances reasonably, and not deliberately or negligently destroying, damaging, or removing part of the premises. Tenants also should conduct themselves and control their guests so as not to disturb the neighbors. A.R.S. § 33-321; A.R.S. § 33-1341.

A tenant is held responsible for the actions of his or her guests that violate the rental agreement or rules and regulations of the landlord if the tenant could reasonably be expected to be aware that such actions might occur and did not attempt to prevent those actions to the best of his or her ability. A.R.S. § 33-1368(G).

What can a tenant do if a landlord breaches the rental agreement?

If a landlord materially fails to comply with the rental agreement, the tenant may deliver a written notice to the landlord specifying what the landlord did or didn't do and that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than ten days after receipt of the notice if the breach is not remedied in ten days. A.R.S. § 33-1361(A). If the material breach affects the health and safety of the tenant, he or she may deliver a written notice to the landlord specifying the acts and omissions constituting the breach and that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than five days after receipt of the notice if the breach is not remedied within five days. A.R.S. § 33-1361(A).

A tenant cannot withhold rent unless it is authorized by the act. A.R.S. § 33-1368(B). Generally, the only time rent can be withheld is when the landlord has deliberately or negligently failed to supply running water, utilities, reasonable amounts of hot water, or heat, air-conditioning, etc. See A.R.S. § 33-1364 for the details of what the tenant can do in this situation.

What can a landlord do if a tenant breaches the rental agreement?

If a tenant fails to comply with the rental agreement, the landlord may deliver a written notice to the tenant specifying what the tenant did or didn't do and that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than ten days after receipt of the notice if the breach is not remedied in ten days. A.R.S. § 33-1368. This process is outlined further in A.R.S. § 33-1368.

If the noncompliance with the rental agreement affects health and safety and the tenant either fails to comply as promptly as conditions require in emergency or within fourteen days after written notice by the landlord, the landlord can enter the residence and remedy it him or herself and add the reasonable cost of the work to the next rent payment. A.R.S. § 33-1369.

Landlords cannot forcibly remove the tenant or intentionally cut off essential services, including utilities, except as provided by the Statute. This is generally limited to situations when the tenant has abandoned the property or when the tenant has been evicted. A.R.S. § 33-1374.

What are the rules for month-to-month rental agreements?

If no time frame is established in the rental agreement, the agreement becomes a month-to-month agreement. A.R.S. § 33-1314(D). To terminate a month-to-month rental agreement, a landlord or a tenant must give 30 days notice in writing before the next rent payment would normally fall due. A.R.S. § 33-1375(B).

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Page Updated:  2 July 2012