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

  • What is the landlords responsibility when black mold is found in their property and is causing the tenants to get sick?
  • I am a section8 tenant and recently found out that I am not responsible for any portion of the rent because The City of Phoenix Section8 pays the entire rent amount and has done so since I began living in the unit. I have paid $50/mth on top of what they get from section8. I was told thats what Im suppose to pay and have done so since I moved in. Now that I have this information, I would like a refund of the payments made that were made. What is the best way to formally request this money?
  • I wanted to know if a landlord can charge me for a damaged wood gate in the backyard? Can it be taken out of my deposit? The gate was never maintenance and it was not on the lease?
  • have a dog was ok bye late manager now new management whats to change rules
  • My fiancé and I moved in the same day and my rent was 440 but he still charged me an extra 40$ for my fiancé can help do this
  • 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 apartment is having a cockroach problem. The people have sprayed buy they still aren't going away. Can I do anything since they have actually been trying? Or am I able to take action since the problem still persists?
  • My son just rented an apartment in a nice complex. He was supposed to move in on a Monday, when roaches were found in the apartment. They sprayed right before he was to move in, but today, four days later, there are baby roaches everywhere. They are supposed to fumigate the complex on Friday, but he's concerned. Can he break the lease if the fumigation fails to get rid of the roaches? He's put out ranch traps all week, and the baby roaches are multiplying.
  • I notified my landlord that our AC was out the first week of May via text. He responded via text that he was exploring options. We’re going on 3 months now without air conditioning. Can I withhold rent until he fixes it?
  • Can a landlord collect an annual interest rate for delinquent rent?

STORIES

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  • State Bar of Arizona
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    www.maricopabar.org
    Referral number 602-257-4434
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    www.pimacountybar.org
    Referral number 520-623-4625
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