General Housing Information Article

Legal Tips for Tenants


Before signing a lease, look at your finances. Do not move into a home that you cannot afford.

Read your lease and all related documents before signing so you are not surprised later to find that you have done something that is prohibited or triggers additional fees or deposits.

Keep a copy of your lease.

Document the condition of the home when you move in. Fill out any move-in condition checklist provided by your landlord and keep a copy. If possible, take pictures of anything that was broken, old, or dirty when you moved in.

Get receipts for all rent payments, especially payments made using cash or money orders. It can take weeks to verify that a money order was cashed, at a cost of $15 or more per order.

Keep the home clean and free of clutter so that moving around the home is safe. Clean up after your children and pets both inside and out.

Promptly notify your landlord of any maintenance issues in writing. Keep a copy. If something wears out or breaks due to age or “normal wear and tear,” ask that it be replaced. If you do nothing, your landlord may try to charge you for replacement after you move.

Communicate with your landlord in writing, or send a written letter confirming verbal
communication. This is especially important when telling your landlord about any problems, or if your landlord promises to do something that is contrary to your lease (such as waiving late fees).

Keep copies for your records. Avoid text messaging as it can be difficult to verify later, especially if your phone is lost or broken.

If you have disputes with the neighbors, write down exactly what happened and note the dates and times. If police were called, obtain copies of the incident reports for your records.

Report major maintenance problems that may be health and safety violations to the County Health Department or City Code Enforcement. Seek legal advice if your landlord does not fix these issues immediately.


You must provide written notice (usually at least 30 days) to your landlord prior to moving, or you can be charged an additional month’s rent – even if you are moving at the end of your lease term.

Keep a copy of your notice.

Empty and clean the home when you move out. It should be in the same condition as when you
moved in, or the landlord can deduct the reasonable cost of cleaning/repairing the home from your deposit and sue you for any amount not covered by the deposit.

Reasonable cleaning and repair costs will seem excessive, so you should do everything you can to avoid them.

In particular:
Start packing and cleaning early. Moving always takes longer than planned.

The home should be completely empty when you turn in the keys. Anything you
don’t have time to move should be donated to charity or thrown away rather than
left behind.


Remove any stickers and decals from the wall. Scrub or paint over any marks left
on the wall from scuffs or children drawing on the walls.

Any hole larger than the tip of a thumbtack should be filled in with spackel so that it
will not show up when painted over.

Replace any burnt out light bulbs. Repair or replace anything you, your family, or
guests broke during your stay, including light bulbs and light covers, mirrors, blinds,
window screens, light switch and outlet covers, doors and door frames, and

Do anything else specifically required by your lease, such as painting or shampooing

If there is not enough time to finish cleaning before your original vacate deadline,
ask the landlord for extra time to finish cleaning. If your landlord requires payment
of additional rent, ask to pay a prorated amount rather than an entire month.

Document the condition of the home when you are finished moving. You should either
request a move-out inspection or take pictures.

Include a recent newspaper or magazine cover in at least one photo from every room to demonstrate the date the photos were taken.

Return the keys to your landlord when you are finished moving out. If this is not done, you can be charged additional rent.

Provide your new address so your landlord can return your deposit and contact you about any additional issues.

After you return the keys, your landlord has 14 days to send you a list of cleaning and repair charges along with what is left of your security deposit after subtracting these charges.


See SALA’s Arizona Residential Renter’s Guide for more detailed advice about specific types of

Seek legal advice right away from SALA or elsewhere if you have a problem that is not resolved easily, especially if the home is not liveable or you expect an eviction. When seeking legal advice, bring copies of all of the following:
  •   Copies of your lease and any correspondence to and from your landlord.
  •   Contact information for your landlord.
  •   Any police reports about disputes with your landlord, neighbors, or anyone living with you.
  •   Any reports issued by the County Health Department or other agencies about health and safety problems.
  •  Any picture or other evidence you have documenting any unresolved maintenance problems.
  •  Receipts or cancelled checks for your most recent rent payment. *Acceptance of rent after serving an eviction notice often delays or waives the landlord’s right to evict.



  • I recently received 2 notices, one from my HOA and one from an attoney's office saying that I have ignored a violation notice. I never received a any notice prior to the these notices and now that are telling me I own them $500 for notice and attorney fees. How is this fair? And what can I do?
  • A friend wants to pay to build a large shop/garage behind my house, for us to work on cars. By doing this, can he, in anyway, have legal property rights to owning my land?
  • My HOA billed me for fence painting that was done before I owned my house. Am I liable for paying for work done before I owned the property?
  • What is the youngest age a person can move out of there parents home, with the permission of their parents?
  • I moved into an apartment 4 years ago with carpet flooring. I have always been allergic to carpet. Now I want the complex to change the carpet to vinyl flooring planks. Are they required do to ADA and pay for it? They say if I want new flooring, I must pay for it.
  • I am currently working with HUD Counselor for two years. Is there a time frame for working these modifications? Also in bankruptcy; does this effect the loan modification process?
  • pools are not being opended,the water is always green,leash law is not being enforced,poop is all over walk ways,stairways smell like urine and dead animals
  • My boyfriend and I have been together since mid 2005. He recently purchased a home in only his name. We are planning on getting married in april of next year. After marriage do I automatically become co- ownr? If we do not get married how long will it take for me to be considered co- owner without him actually havng to add my name to the title?
  • Hello... I live in an apartment, last week my car was stolen and so were my license plates. The following day, the manager called and had my vehicle towed, I called the office and explained my situation and asked if there was any way they could help me as I am a single mother and live on ssd, they said there is nothing we can do, you are going to have to pay to get your car out, also adding it is in my lease that vehicles cannot be parked with no tags and I should have called them and told them my tags were stolen. Can I force them to pay the fees if I have police report?
  • years ago i signed over my home to my sister because I was told that if I owned a home I wasn't able to receive AHCCCS. I want to retrieve my home and have mortgage back in my name. Can this be done if my sister won't agree to changing the mortgage




  • Please select your county of residence below.



  • State Bar of Arizona
  • Maricopa County Bar
    Referral number 602-257-4434
  • Pima County Bar
    Referral number 520-623-4625
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
  • Bankruptcy Court Self Help Center
  • Certified Legal Document Preparer Program