This article provides an overview of the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act and the references cited are to the applicable portion of the Arizona Revised Statutes. This information is provided for apartment and home rentals. The rules for renting a mobile home or a space for a mobile are similar but are not covered by the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. Mobile home parks are governed by a different set of statutes that can be found at A.R.S. §§ 33-1401 - 33-1501.
A Landlord Cannot do certain things under the Act:
While a landlord can bill separately for utilities, he/she cannot make a tenant to sign a lease that requires a tenant to waive any rights under Arizona law. A.R.S. §§ 33-1314.01 & 33-1315. It is also illegal for a landlord to allow someone to live in a residence rent free in return for the landlord not maintaining the property. A.R.S. § 33-1316. In addition, a landlord cannot refuse to rent a residence on the basis that the potential tenant has children. A.R.S. § 33-1317. Landlords must also register with the county assessor. A.R.S. § 33-1902.
From the tenant’s perspective, perhaps the most important thing to remember is that a tenant has a duty to pay rent and to pay that rent on time. If a tenant fails to do so, the landlord will likely bring 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 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.
In addition to the obligation to pay rent on time, a tenant must do the following under Arizona law. A.R.S. §§ 33-1341 & 33-1344.
- Keep the residence clean and safe
- Remove and dispose of trash
- Keep all plumbing fixtures clean
- Use electrical appliances, heating and air-conditioning systems and plumbing in a reasonable manner
- Not deliberately or negligently damage the property or allow someone else to do so
- Unless agreed otherwise, use the property only as a residence
Access by Landlord to the Residence A.R.S. § 33-1343
A tenant cannot unreasonably withhold consent to the landlord to enter the residence in order to inspect the premises or make repairs. Unless there is an emergency or unless it is impracticable 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 only enter at reasonable times.
A landlord is required to do the following under Arizona law. A.R.S. §§ 33-1322 – 1324.
- Provide the tenant with the name and address of the property’s owner and manager
- Provide the tenant with a free copy of the Arizona Landlord and Tenant Act
- Provide the tenant with a signed copy of the lease
- Provide the tenant with possession of the residence
- Comply with applicable building codes
- Make necessary repairs so that the residence is habitable
- Keep common areas clean
- Maintain all electrical, plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning equipment
- Provide for the removal of trash
- Supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water
Security Deposits A.R.S. § 33-1321
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 than one and one-half month’s rent. Upon move-in, the landlord is required to furnish the tenant with a signed copy of the lease, a form documenting any damages to the property, and written notification that the tenant may be present at the move out inspection. However, 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 has moved out, the landlord must return it or provide an itemized list of all of the deductions taken for property damage and the balance of the deposit within 14 days. If the landlord fails to do so, the tenant can file suit in a justice court and recover twice the amount wrongfully withheld.
Tenant Options if Landlord Fails to Comply
Self-Help for Minor Defects A.R.S. § 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 of his intention to repair the problem at the landlord’s expense. The notification should be in writing. If the landlord does not fix the problem within 10 days from receiving the notice, the tenant can hire a licensed contractor, submit a repair bill to the landlord, and deduct the cost of the work from his rent. This provision does not apply if the damage was caused by the tenant or one of his guests.
Failure to Supply Essential Services A.R.S. § 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. At that point, the tenant has one of the following three 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 substitute 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 A.R.S. § 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 cause by the tenant or his guest.
Military Orders and Lease Provisions
Under the Service Members’ Civil Relief Act, a military member can break his lease upon receipt of Permanent Change of Station orders or upon receipt of orders deploying him for at least 90 days. 50 App. U.S.C.A. § 535(a). If one of those events occurs, then the landlord cannot refuse to allow the military tenant to leave. This provision of federal law also applies to any of the military member’s family members who may have responsibility under the lease. 50 App. U.S.C.A. § 535(a)(2). A military tenant who is either moving or being deployed is still responsible for any reasonable repair costs to the residence beyond normal wear and tear.
To terminate a lease under this law, the military member must provide the landlord with written notice and a copy of the orders. 50 App. U.S.C.A. § 535(c)(1)(A). The military member can either deliver this notice in person or mail it certified mail, return receipt requested, to his landlord. 50 App. U.S.C.A. § 535(c)(2).
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.