Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

questions & answers

Question: without a written lease can my landlord lock me out and pull my power cord and shut off water to the camper in her back yard i stay in. phoenix police say yes without her going through the eviction process and not serving me with any notices

Answer: The Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (A.R.S. Title 33 Chapter 10) defines “rental agreements” as “agreements, written, oral or implied by law, and valid rules and regulations […] embodying the terms and conditions concerning the use and occupancy of a dwelling unit and premises” (A.R.S. 33-1310). What this means is that a legally enforceable rental agreement between a landlord and a tenant does not need to be in writing, so the deciding issue in this situation is whether or not you are a current tenant who has an ongoing rental agreement (which would include a month-to-month tenancy arising out of the expiration of a written lease) with a landlord (A.R.S. 33-1409). If you are in fact a current tenant, then the landlord may not under any circumstances lock you out or shut off your utilities (including water) without first going through the formal eviction process and obtaining the permission of a court. The Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act states that if any landlord “unlawfully removes or excludes the tenant from the premises or wilfully diminishes services to the tenant by interrupting or causing the interruption of electric, gas, water or other essential service to the tenant,” then the tenant may either recover possession of the rental unit or terminate the rental agreement and, in either case, also recover an amount of up to two months’ rent or twice the actual damages sustained by the tenant, whichever is greater (A.R.S. § 33-1367). This demonstrates how very serious a violation of the law it is for a landlord to lock out a tenant or to shut off a tenant’s utilities. If you would like to speak with an attorney about your specific situation, there are links to organizations offering free or low-cost legal services on this website. The LegalLEARN Helpline toll-free telephone number is 1-866-637-5341.

QUESTIONS

  • without a written lease can my landlord lock me out and pull my power cord and shut off water to the camper in her back yard i stay in. phoenix police say yes without her going through the eviction process and not serving me with any notices

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