Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities Article


Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act


This article provides an overview of some of the rules and regulations that apply to rented apartments and condos and houses in Arizona. Rented apartments and condos and houses are governed by the Arizona Residential Landlord And Tenant Act (A.R.S. Title 33 Chapter 10) and all references cited are to the applicable portion of the Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.).

These rules and regulations do not apply to rented mobile homes and rented mobile home spaces within mobile home parks in Arizona. Rented mobile homes and rented mobile home spaces within mobile home parks are governed by the Arizona Mobile Home Parks Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (A.R.S. Title 33 Chapter 11), which is covered in a separate article on this website.

The purpose of the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act is to clarify the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants and to encourage both landlords and tenants to ensure that quality rental housing remains available to all Arizonans (A.R.S. § 33-1302). It is important to note that every right and obligation described in the Act imposes an obligation of “good faith” on both landlords and tenants (A.R.S. § 33-1311), which means that if and when disputes arise, both sides must treat the other honestly and fairly.

An electronic version of the Arizona Residential Landlord And Tenant Act may be accessed here: https://housing.az.gov/sites/default/files/documents/files/AZ%20Residential%20Landlord%20and%20Tenant%20Act%20-%20Revised%20July%203%202015.pdf

How tenants can protect their rights

IMPORTANT: As long as the provisions of a rental agreement do not violate the Act (or any other applicable laws), tenants generally are required to comply with them. This is why it is very important for tenants to read and review their rental agreements carefully before they sign them. Rental agreements are a kind of contract, so tenants should know exactly what they are agreeing to before they make a commitment in writing.

It also is crucial for tenants to keep in mind that tenants have a duty to pay rent and to pay that rent on time (A.R.S. § 330-1314). When tenants fail to pay their rent on time, their landlords often start eviction actions. 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.

The most effective way for tenants to protect their rights is by making and keeping copies (having proof) of all payments and notices/requests/promises exchanged between them and their landlords. Tenants are strongly advised to require their landlords to put all landlord/tenant agreements in a writing signed and dated by the landlord. It is also recommended that tenants take photos and/or video of the condition of the rental unit and (especially if a dispute seems likely) have people come over to serve as witnesses both when they move in and when they move out as well as immediately if and when any problem arises.

All notices sent to a landlord must (1) be in writing (and signed and dated) and (2) either delivered by hand (in person) or sent by registered or certified mail. This way the tenant has evidence when and that the letter was sent (in case the landlord denies it).

Security deposits

A security deposit is a sum of money that landlords are permitted to charge their tenants at the beginning of a lease or rental agreement in order to ensure that if a tenant causes any damage to the rental unit beyond ordinary wear and tear or moves out without first paying all of the rent that the tenant owes, the landlord will have the money to cover those losses.

Given that one of the major purposes of a security deposit is to ensure that a landlord has the money to cover the cost to repair any damage to the rental unit caused by a tenant, it is strongly recommended that both tenants and landlords take photos and/or video of the rental unit showing its condition both when the tenant moves in and the tenant moves out. A tenant who is vacating a rental unit may also wish to have a friend drop by to witness the condition of the unit first-hand.

Under Arizona law (A.R.S. §33-1321), landlords may ask for a security deposit up to an amount that is equal to 1 + ½ month’s rent. Landlords may not ask for more than this. (So, for example, if the monthly rent is $1,000, then the most that a landlord may charge as a security deposit is $1,500, which is one month’s rent ($1,000) plus one-half of one month’s rent ($500).)

For more information about security deposits (including permitted deductions and the recovery process), please see the separate article on this website entitled “Security Deposits”: [link to article here].

Tenant obligations

In addition to paying their rent in full and on time, tenants are required under Arizona law (A.R.S. § 33-1341) to do the following:

1. Comply with all applicable building codes
2. Keep the premises clean and safe
3. Remove and properly dispose of all trash
4. Keep all plumbing fixtures clean
5. Use electrical, plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning appliances and systems in a reasonable manner
6. Not deliberately or negligently damage the property or allow someone else to do so
7. Conduct themselves (and ensure that others conduct themselves) in a manner that will not disturb their neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises
8. Promptly notify the landlord of required repairs or other action
9. Unless otherwise agreed, use the premises as a residence only (A.R.S. § 33-1344).

Landlord access to a dwelling


A tenant may not unreasonably deny permission to the landlord to enter the premises in order to inspect it or make repairs. In the case of an emergency, the landlord may enter the premises without the permission of the tenant. Under ordinary circumstances, however, the landlord must give the tenant at least 2 days notice that the landlord will be entering the premises and may only do so at reasonable times. If the tenant notifies the landlord of a service or maintenance request, then that notice from the tenant is considered to be a granting of permission by the tenant for the landlord to enter the premises (A.R.S. § 33-1343).

Bed bugs

Landlords are prohibited from entering into rental agreements with tenants for dwellings that they know to be infested with bedbugs. Tenants are prohibited from moving materials that they know to be infested with bed bugs into a dwelling. A tenant who discovers that a dwelling is infested with bed bugs must immediately inform the landlord.  (A.R.S. § 33-1319).

Landlord obligations

Landlords are required under Arizona law to do the following:

1. Provide the tenant with the name and address of the property’s owner and manager (A.R.S. § 33-1322)
2. If there is a written rental agreement: provide the tenant with a signed copy of the fully completed agreement (blank spaces are not permitted) and have the tenant sign and deliver to the landlord an identical copy of the agreement within a reasonable time (A.R.S. § 33-1322)
3. Maintain the residence (A.R.S. § 33-1324):
(i) Comply with all applicable building codes
(ii) Make all repairs and do whatever else may be necessary to ensure that the premises are and remain in a “fit and habitable” condition
(iii) Keep common areas clean and safe
(iv) Maintain in good and safe working order all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, ventilation, heating, and air-conditioning systems and equipment (including elevators)
(v) Provide for the proper removal of trash
(vi) Supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times as well as reasonable heat and reasonable air-conditioning or cooling where such units are installed and offered, when required by seasonal weather conditions, except where the building that includes the dwelling unit is not required by law to be equipped for that purpose or the dwelling unit is so constructed that heat, air-conditioning, cooling or hot water is generated by an installation within the exclusive control of the tenant and supplied by a direct public utility connection

Tenant options if/when the landlord fails to comply


Material noncompliance by the landlord


If a landlord fails to comply with the landlord’s obligations under the rental agreement (whether by not doing something that the landlord should do or by doing something that the landlord should not do), then the tenant may deliver to the landlord written notice identifying the problem and stating that if the problem is not fixed within 10 days after the landlord receives this notice then the rental agreement will terminate. If a landlord fails to comply with the landlord’s obligations in way that affects or threatens to affect the health and safety of the tenant, then the tenant may deliver to the landlord written notice identifying the problem and stating that if the problem is not fixed within 5 days after the landlord receives this notice then the rental agreement will terminate (A.R.S. § 33-1361).

Exceptions (the rental agreement will not terminate if):
(i) the landlord is able to fix the problem either by making repairs or paying damages to the tenant before the date specified in the written notice; or
(ii) the tenant him/herself (or anyone else on the premises with the permission of the tenant) deliberately or negligently caused the problem in the first place

Self-help for minor defects by the tenant


If a landlord fails to fix the problem within the specified period of time – and the problem can be fixed either for less than $300 or an amount equal to one-half of the monthly rent (whichever is greater) – then the tenant also has the option of notifying the landlord of the tenant’s intention to fix the problem him/herself at the landlord’s expense. If the landlord receives written notice of the tenant’s intention to fix the problem, and still does nothing – either after 10 days if the problem is not too serious or as soon as necessary in the case of an emergency – then the tenant may have the work done by a licensed contractor and, after submitting the bill (including an itemized statement of the work completed) to the landlord, deduct from his rent the actual and reasonable cost of the work from the tenant’s next rent payment (A.R.S. § 33-1363).

Exceptions (the tenant may not charge repairs to the landlord if):
(i) the tenant him/herself (or anyone else on the premises with the permission of the tenant) deliberately or negligently caused the problem in the first place; or
(ii) the problem does not constitute a breach of the “fit and habitable” condition of the premises

Failure by the landlord to supply essential services


If a landlord fails to supply running water, gas and/or electrical service, or fails to provide reasonable amounts of hot water, heat, cooling, or air-conditioning (where such units are installed and offered), or any other essential service, then the tenant may provide written notice to the landlord identifying the problem and informing the landlord that he/she is in breach of the rental agreement (A.R.S. § 33-1364). If, after what the law describes only as “a reasonable period of time,” the landlord still has not restored the essential service, then the tenant has three options:

Option One: The tenant may arrange for the required utilities on her/his own and deduct the cost of those utilities from the tenant’s next monthly rent payment. (With the utility company’s approval, a tenant group or group of tenants also may pay a landlord’s delinquent utility bill and deduct that amount from their rent.)

Option Two: The tenant may file a claim in court to recover damages based on the decreased fair rental value of the dwelling.

Option Three:
The tenant may find “reasonable substitute housing” (an inexpensive motel, for example) until the landlord restores the essential service. What this means is that when the tenant pays his/her rent for the following month, the tenant may pay a “prorated” amount. (So, for example, if the monthly rent is $900 (or $30/day), and the tenant is forced to stay in a motel for 5 days, then the tenant may reduce the next month’s rent payment by $150.) If the cost of this substitute housing exceeds the amount of the tenant’s rent for the period, then the tenant also may recover up to 25% (but no more) of the additional expense from the landlord.

Eviction


In Arizona, eviction actions are called “special detainer” actions (A.R.S. § 33-1337). A landlord may undertake a special detainer action if and when (1) a tenant violates one of the tenant’s obligations (such as the obligation to pay rent on time) and (2) as a result of this violation by the tenant the landlord wishes to retake possession of the dwelling.

For more information about special detainer actions (including the reasons why a landlord may seek to have a tenant evicted, how the eviction process works, and when and how a tenant may fight an eviction), please see the separate article on this website entitled “Evictions”: [link to article here].

Domestic violence and ending a lease


Under Arizona law (A.R.S. § 33-1318), a tenant who is a victim of domestic violence may terminate a rental agreement without penalty. The tenant must provide her/his landlord with 30-day written notice (either delivered by hand or sent by registered or certified mail) requesting termination of the rental agreement. Included with this letter must be one of the following:
1. a copy of any order of protection that has been issued to the tenant who is a victim of domestic violence (The landlord may also request a receipt or signed statement that the order of protection has been submitted to an authorized officer of a court for service.) OR
2. a copy of a written departmental report from a law enforcement agency that states that the tenant notified the law enforcement agency that the tenant is a victim of domestic violence
The tenant may terminate the rental agreement pursuant to A.R.S. 33-1318 if the actions, events, or circumstances that resulted in the tenant being a victim of domestic violence have occurred within the 30 days immediately preceding the date on which the tenant gives written notice to the landlord (unless the landlord voluntarily waives this requirement).
As long as the tenant meets these requirements and subsequently vacates the rental unit, the tenant will no longer be liable for future rent and may not be charged early termination penalties or fees.

Military orders and ending a lease


Under provisions of the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (50 App. U.S.C.A. § 535), a tenant who is a military member and receives either Permanent Change of Station orders or orders deploying him/her for at least 90 days may terminate a rental agreement without penalty. The military member must provide his/her landlord with written notice as well as a copy of the orders. These documents must be either delivered in person or sent to the landlord by certified mail, return receipt requested. These provisions also apply to any of the military member’s family members who have responsibility under the lease. The military member who is moving or being deployed remains responsible for the costs of any reasonable repairs to the dwelling beyond ordinary wear and tear.

Comments:

On 5/1/09
Melanie said
I am a landlady and have been for 30 years - also I am a realtor. I am often appalled at the stories I hear of bad landlords. Some of the things they do or not do are just unconsionable. The Landlord/Tenant act is your friend - it is fair law.

On 10/8/07
Laurel said
I also have a serious scorpion problem. My husband has already been stung and we incurred a hospital bill because of it and we have an 18 month old son who constantly has scorpions around him in his play area and where he sleeps. What can we do?

On 10/6/07
Nancy said
my landlord never gave me electric bills for 6 months and is now suing me the amount plus costs? What can i do. I did ask manager each month about the bill

On 8/22/07
steph said
I have a serious scorpion problem also. I need to break my lease what can we do

On 8/10/07
MICHELLE  said
I MOVED IN TO LAS MONTAÑAS APTS. ABOUT 6MONTHS AGO AND I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO GET THEM TO FIX TO FIX THE APPLIENCES THAT ARE LISTED ON THE LEASE THEY WILL NOT HELP , CAN I TERMINATE THE LEASE?

View all Comments

QUESTIONS

  • Does the landlord have to provide proper and safe drinking water? Water and ice in refrigerator is hard and has flakes in the cup. Is this something that should be taken care of by landlord?
  • I just moved into a house that i am renting. I received my first gas and water bill witch were outrageous prices. After calling the water and gas company we discovered that there was a leak under the house. They discovered that the remodel was done improperly breaking on of the pipes. He fixed the issue in a matter of days. But i feel that i should not have to pay the water or gas bill. He is refusing to pay them. Is there anything I can do?
  • We are leasing a home with a pool. The problem is with the owner chosen pool person. We do not have a working relationship with this person and the property mgmt has told us he locked the pump timer per owners instructions. Is that legal and we do not want this person on our property any longer. What rights and alternatives do we have.
  • I lost my job and am unable to pay my lease. What happens if I break a lease, yet there isn't a provision in lease regarding breaking the lease.
  • Who is responsible for paying the city tax on a rental property the tenant or landlord?
  • Do i need to pay rent if the house i'm renting is in foreclosure. and if so to who?
  • I am currently renting a room in a person's house. Due to a leak in the plumbing they are replacing all of the flooring on the floor that I live in, including in the room that I rent. I have to vacate my room for 2-3 days while they refloor the room. She says that she only has to reimburse me the "daily cost" of my room rental for the days I have to be out of my room. Do they have to provide adequate housing for me while I am being forced out of my room. She says I can sleep on an air mattress. Would my renters insurance cover this?
  • I signed a lease for a house and the management company is acting very irresponsible and lackadaisical. I have not put any money down on the house because I was told that I would be set up in the computer to pay. My question is can I legally get out of this lease? It is due to start July 1. I need a management company that is going to be just as responsible as I am required to be and I am getting really bad feelings about this company. Thanks for your help! :) Kristin
  • I signed a lease before property management would show me the apartment. I have not moved in and I am very unhappy with the apartment can I legally break lease. I never was given a copy of my lease agreement either.
  • I signed a lease to a new place which I just got the keys to, I walk in expecting it had been properly cleaned, painted, and repaired as I had viewed it before completion. Now I get told that it was stated as "move in quality and we are not entirely repainting" The walls are dirty, scratched and marred, food reminance, and spakle marks everywhere to be seen. Other repairs werent done correctly either, what can I do here if they refuse to do nothing? At this point I want out of the agreement I havent moved in but I have paid deposit rent and signed the lease. Can I legally get out of this?

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