Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

questions & answers

Question: I had a written lease for a residence.  Before my lease expired, the landlord put the property I had under lease up for sale.  When I saw that the landlord had put the property up for sale, I moved out of the leased property two months before the lease had expired.   Did I breach my lease?  If I did breach my lease, how do I calculate how much money I owe the landlord?

Answer:

Generally, if a tenant has a lease and he or she leaves the rented property (dwelling unit) prior to the expiration of the lease that may be considered abandonment of the property. Abandonment is defined in Arizona law (A.R.S. § 33-1370) as either 

  1. The absence of the tenant from the dwelling unit, without notice to the landlord for at least seven days, if rent for the dwelling unit is outstanding and unpaid for ten days and there is no reasonable evidence other than the presence of the tenant’s personal property that the tenant is occupying the residence, or 
  2. the absence of the tenant for at least five days, if the rent of the dwelling unit is outstanding and unpaid for five days and none of the tenant’s personal property is in the dwelling unit.

Once the dwelling unit is abandoned, the landlord must send the tenant a notice of abandonment by certified mail AND post a notice of abandonment on the door to the dwelling unit for five days. After the five days of notice have passed, the landlord may take possession of the dwelling unit and re-rent it at fair rental value if the previous tenant did not leave any personal belongings in the unit when it was abandoned (under 2) above). When the landlord takes back the dwelling unit, any security deposit money held by the landlord is forfeited by the tenant and is applied to the payment of any owed but unpaid rent and other reasonable costs that the landlord faces as a result of the tenant’s abandonment.

If, prior to the expiration of the previous tenant’s lease term, the landlord is able to rent the dwelling for a term, the previous tenant’s rental agreement (or lease) is considered to end as of the date of the start of the new tenant’s rental term (or lease). In this situation, and assuming that the previous tenant did not owe any past due rent, the previous tenant would only be responsible for the unpaid rent from the date the previous tenant left the rental property (when the property was abandoned) up until the date of the start of the new rental term with the new tenant. As stated above, the previous tenant would also be responsible for any reasonable costs that the landlord faced, such as advertising, etc. to rent the property prior to the expiration of the previous tenant’s lease.

For other information on tenants’ rights in Arizona, visit Landlord and Tenants Rights and Responsibilities or visit HUD online

Comments:

On 3/23/09
Margo said
The answer did not dierectly answer the question regarding the landlord's responsibility for early lease violation by intending to sell the property where the tenant resides, which forces the tenant to live in a place not knowing limbo

QUESTIONS

  • I had a written lease for a residence.  Before my lease expired, the landlord put the property I had under lease up for sale.  When I saw that the landlord had put the property up for sale, I moved out of the leased property two months before the lease had expired.   Did I breach my lease?  If I did breach my lease, how do I calculate how much money I owe the landlord?

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