Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

questions & answers

Question: We were paying our electricity through our apartment complex. They would bill it to us each month with our rent with a 50 dollar service fee. Last month they didn't bill us for it and it wasn't in our bill, so we were waiting until they gave us the bill or it was just added on to next months payment and/or rent. They did add it on to the next months rent/bill and we usually pay the 3rd if every month which isn't late. They turned off our power without any notice AT ALL on the second. They didn't give any warning what so ever. Is that legal?!

Answer: Under Arizona law, a landlord may not under any circumstances block a tenant’s access to utilities until after a judge has ordered that tenant’s eviction and subsequently issued a writ of restitution (A.R.S. 33-1368(D)). In fact, if a landlord blocks a tenant’s access to utilities before a judge has issued a writ of restitution, then tenant may not only recover possession of the dwelling or terminate the rental agreement without penalty, but also, in either case, be awarded an amount equal to two months’ rent or twice any actual damages sustained by the tenant, whichever is greater (A.R.S. 33-1367). If a landlord decides to evict a tenant because that tenant has failed to comply with the rental agreement (for example, by not paying rent), then the landlord must provide the tenant with notice (5 days for nonpayment of rent), and then, after that notice period has ended, file a complaint with the court and serve the tenant with a summons and a copy of the complaint (A.R.S. 33-1368). Only after a judge has heard the case and decided the matter in favor of the landlord, and then issued not only the eviction order but also the writ of restitution, may the landlord turn off the power. If you would like to speak with an attorney, there are links to free and low-cost legal services on this website.

QUESTIONS

  • We were paying our electricity through our apartment complex. They would bill it to us each month with our rent with a 50 dollar service fee. Last month they didn't bill us for it and it wasn't in our bill, so we were waiting until they gave us the bill or it was just added on to next months payment and/or rent. They did add it on to the next months rent/bill and we usually pay the 3rd if every month which isn't late. They turned off our power without any notice AT ALL on the second. They didn't give any warning what so ever. Is that legal?!

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