Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities Article


The Landlord Tenant Relationship

Rights, Responsibilities, and Remedies

Arizona Landlord Tenant Law

The Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (ARLTA)is the law governing most private, residential, rental agreements. In other words, the ARLTA provides tenants and landlords with rights, obligations and remedies in the rental relationship. Copies of the ARLTA are available at the Secretary of State’s web site and Community Legal Services. If you are experiencing housing problems, contact a legal aid group in your area.

Protecting Your Rights

Keeping Receipts and Notices

The inability to prove the truth is the most common problem tenants face when issues arise in their relationships with landlords. In order to better protect your rights, keep copies of all payments and notices exchanged between your landlord and yourself. Additionally, require your landlord to put all agreements in a writing s/he signs and dates. If you anticipate a problem, try to get additional evidence, such as witnesses or photographs.

Eviction

Landlords may evict tenants for a variety of reasons, however, all eviction notices must be in writing. The amount of time a tenant has to either vacate the premises or fix the problem, if possible, is dependent upon the type of eviction. For example, if it is discovered you have an unauthorized pet, the landlord could give you 10 days to either vacate the premises or get rid of the pet. If the problem involves such things as criminal activity or threatening other residents or apartment staff, the required notice to vacate is 24 hours and there is no opportunity to fix the problem. Once an eviction notice is given, there is a very short period of time, sometimes as little as 2 days, before a trial may be held. If you receive an eviction notice, you are encouraged to seek legal assistance as soon as possible.

Obligations of Your Landlord

Security Deposits

Landlords may require tenants to pay a deposit when they begin renting. The security deposit cannot be more than one and a half times your monthly rent and must state in writing any deposits which are non-refundable.

Safe Environment

Landlords must provide several things in exchange for rental payments. One of the most basic and important requirements is that your landlord provide you and your family with a healthy and safe living environment. Your living environment includes your apartment or home, and any common areas the landlord owns and holds open to residents.

Things Your Landlord Must Provide

The law specifically states:

  • Your landlord must keep all appliances, which they supply, in working order.
  • Your landlord must provide you with a way to dispose of garbage.
  • Your landlord must make it possible for you to receive running water, including hot water.
  • Your landlord must supply everything they promised in the lease. They can only shut off your utilities in a few very limited situations.

If you rent a home, your landlord and yourself can agree that you will perform the maintenance on the property. You must, however, be given some consideration, such as being paid or having your rent reduced.

Repairs Costing Less Than ½ Month’s Rent or $300

If a rental unit is in need of minor repair(s), and the damage(s) were not caused by the tenant, tenant’s family or guests, the landlord will probably be responsible for making the repair(s). The law requires you first give your landlord written notice of the problem, stating the landlord has 10 days to make the repair(s). If the landlord fails to make the repair(s) after 10 days and the cost of the repair(s) will be less than the greater of ½ month’s rent or $300, you must hire a licensed contractor and get a lien release and either forward the bill to your landlord or pay for the repair yourself and deduct it from your next rental payment. A copy of the bill and the lien release must be included with your rent.

Breach of Lease for Failure to Repair

Occasionally damages to a rental unit, which are not caused by the tenant, tenant’s family or guests, may be severe enough to allow the tenant to cancel their lease agreement on the basis that the landlord failed to fulfill their obligations. Before seeking this remedy, however, you must be able to prove an important obligation was not kept and give your landlord a written notice. For most violations, you must give your landlord a written notice stating they have 10 days to make the repair. If the problem threatens your health or safety, you only need to give the landlord 5 days to make the repair. If the landlord fixes the problem within the appropriate amount of time, the lease cannot be cancelled. If the landlord does not fix the problem within the appropriate time, you can choose to end the lease early and get your security deposit back. We strongly encourage you to seek legal advice before resorting to this remedy because of the legal repercussions for tenants who seek this remedy improperly.

Failure to Supply Promised Utilities

In some rental relationships the landlord has exclusive control over utilities, including water, gas, electricity and air conditioning. In such situations, the landlord cannot fail to supply the promised utility(s). If your landlord violates this promise, you must first request in writing that your landlord supply the services. If the landlord does not supply the service(s), you can either:

  • Buy the service(s) yourself and deduct the cost from the rent;
  • Sue the landlord for the amount by which your home or apartment is reduced in value because of the lack of service(s);
  • Temporarily rent another place and not pay rent for the apartment that lacks service(s). In addition the tenant may then recover up to 25% of his daily rent if the substitute housing costs more than the daily rent he owed his landlord. Remember you must write to your landlord and tell them of the problem before you do any of these things, and it cannot be a problem caused by you, your family or a guest.

Obligations of the Tenant

Paying the Rent

If you plan to remain in possession, you must continue to pay rent even if your landlord is not living up to his or her end of the bargain. Not paying rent gives the appearance that you are trying to break the lease, and weakens any argument you may about improper actions by your landlord. It is hard to say you are not getting what you paid for if you did not pay.

Letting Your Landlord Enter Your House or Apartment

You must allow your landlord and his or her employees to enter your house or apartment if he or she notifies you in writing at least two days before they seek access. They cannot enter very early in the morning or at night. If there is an emergency, they don’t have to give you notice to enter. If your landlord violates these rules, you may sue and recover one month’s rent and either:

  • Get a court order to prevent your landlord from unreasonably entering or
  • Terminate your lease.

Information provided in this pamphlet is based on Arizona law as of May 2002.


Comments:

On 8/29/07
lucy said
I reside @ apts. my lease agreement states they are not liable for residents safety, security,ie fire, vandalism, defects in apt or the community and deny a trial by jury. is this lawful?

On 7/20/07
Nancy said
In our lease it states electricity provided. Does that mean we have to pay for it or is the landlord responsible for it?

On 6/29/07
Maria said
I live in an apt complex & have new Property manager.Jst recvd a "Maintenance Repair Cost" at my door that whn I submit a workorder all fees of repair wl be added to rent. Can they do this?

QUESTIONS

  • My landlord has yet to return my security deposit. She keeps saying "I'll do it soon" but doesn't. I don't think she has much intention of returning it soon. In her lease, it states she has 30 days to return security deposit, I was unaware that in AZ she only has 14. Since I signed her contract, do I have to wait the full 30 days or does AZ Law of 14 business days trump that?
  • My new apt. has many old water leaks I only discovered when it rained, and a large patch of black mold that's not responding to me spraying mold and mildew cleaner on it growing on the outside exterior of my living room wall in a closet. During the last storm, I had water trickling down the drywall and across the ceiling in my bedroom and one can see it's not a new leak and has been repaired before. Maintenance says they can only cosmetically scrape and paint it. I can't live here even if its remedied because it's extensive and I'm very sensitive to mold already. What do I do?
  • Landlord shut off gas and water to residence - while occupied. Verbal agreement between landlord and occupants. Intend to move out but need time to find a place.
  • What is the tenants right to having hot water available to them over 48 hours without it. Landlord refusing to resolve the issue.
  • I am wanting to move out and need to find a new tenant to take over lease. I found a guy and he signed the lease and made the deposit with the landlord, then said less than a day later he has an emergency and can't move in. The landlord says I need to continue my search for a replacement tenant but I asked since he signed the lease isn't he locked in and it's no longer my responsibility. So am I still locked in or is it now the landlords responsibility to find someone?
  • My tenant who rents the back bedroom in my 2 bedroom mobile home has given me verbal notice of her intent to no longer honor our oral month to month rental agreement by ceasing to pay rent as of the 1st of the month; but when asked of her intended date to vacate the property she tells me I have to evict her with due process...even though she initiated the termination of our agreement and I accepted her termination. My main query here being...since she verbally informed me of her intent to cease paying rent and to vacate the property and I accepted her termination...do I have to evict her too?
  • When I rented the apt I'm living in now, there was no actual walkthru, where damages are noted, etc. I did take pictures before I spent a night there, will these hold up in court?
  • Mtg of my apt complex wrote my contract for 5 month but noted it is a 6 mo contract. It was to be a 6 month contract not 5. what shall I do? Noted in the contract says I have to give a 30 day notice to vacate which would have been the end of Jan.
  • A few days after a pest control issue, house of filled with dead animal smell coming from the AC vents. I couldn’t get in contact with my landlord. My husband gets up in the attic to try to Search. He determined it was not in a ducts, but most likely fell into the mail AC unit. My landlord has sent two different people out to 1. Cover the smell, 2.reconnect the duct. He has yet to send someone to open/check inside the unit. I have an immune compromised 2 year old, no ac, & a dead animal in air system (which is a big health hazard). How long can he drag his feet? What are our options?
  • I have been in the rental house in AZ for more than 5 years. Now that I am leaving the landlord say's they are charging me late fee from past rent over the last five years. Can they do this even thoe they never said or mention rent was late and there was not late fee asked for. But in the lease it does say there is a late fee if rent is late but has never told me rent was ever late or ever ask for late fee's before me giving my notice to leave

STORIES

  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .
  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .
  • I just helped my mother, age 89, deal with her Medicare HMO. . .

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