Holland Law Group
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Arizona Landlord Representation

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Recently, the Arizona Supreme Court approved new court rules of procedure for eviction actions. The attorneys at Holland Law Group are familiar with and have litigated under these rules.

Arizona’s Residential Landlord Tenant Act

(ARS §33-1301 et seq) is the governing body of law for all things landlord or tenant related. Specific provisions are made for nearly every common occurrence. The highlights of the legislation are as follows:

Domestic Violence

ARS §33-1318: A tenant who is a victim of domestic violence has certain rights that enable him or her to terminate the lease without penalty (creating a civil cause of action against the person who committed the domestic violence) and re-key the premises.

Security Deposits

ARS §33-1321: A landlord cannot charge more than 150% of the monthly rent. The landlord can apply a security deposit to rents due and/or damages, but must provide an accounting within 14 days of termination of the tenancy. The tenant has a cause of action for up to 3 times any amounts wrongfully withheld by the landlord.

Lease Agreements

ARS §33-1322: Lease agreements (other than for month-to-month tenancies) must be in writing and a copy must be provided to the tenant upon request within a reasonable time.

Maintenance of the Premises

ARS §33-1324 & 1341: The landlord must maintain a fit premises, including keeping all necessary services in safe and working condition. The maintenance obligations may be shifted by agreement to the tenant, but not for things that affect health and safety of the fit premises (structural integrity or compliance with building codes). The tenant is obligated to use all services provided in a reasonable manner and refrain from negligently or deliberately destroy any part of the premises or permit anyone else to do so.

Notification to Enter the Premises

ARS §33-1343: Except in cases of emergency or by , a landlord must give at least two days’ notice before entering the premises. Entry shall be made "only at reasonable times."

Remedies for Failure to Maintain

ARS §33-1361, 1363, and 1364: If a landlord fails to maintain the premises within ten days after demand it made by a tenant, the tenant may either elect to terminate the lease without recourse or repair the premises (using a licensed contractor) for less than $300 and deduct the cost of the repairs from the next month’s rent upon providing proof of the amount spent. If a necessary essential service (i.e. running water, electricity, heat, air, etc.)is not provided by the landlord within a reasonable time after giving notice of the defect, the tenant may make the repairs, recovering damages from the landlord, procure a reasonable substitute for the service (get a hotel room) at the landlord’s expense up to the amount of the monthly rent.

Retaliatory Actions by Landlord

ARS §33-1367 and 1381: If a landlord shuts off utilities without the tenants’ permission, the tenant may terminate the lease without recourse and obtain a judgment against the landlord for 2 months rent or twice actual damages, whichever is greater.

Notices for Possible Eviction

ARS §33-1368: There are four types of notice relating to evictions:

  1. Immediate termination of a rental agreement can be had if the tenant is engaged in unlawful activities or activities that jeopardize the health, safety and welfare of others. Notice is given at the same time as an eviction action being brought in the court.
  2. A five-day notice is given when rent is not paid. The tenant has five days to pay the overdue rent or vacate. If the tenant pays the rent and late fees within the five days, the lease continues uninterrupted. If not, the eviction action is filed after the five days.
  3. A ten-day notice is given where there is a material breach of the rental agreement (i.e., tenant is operating a business out of the home and it is prohibited by the lease). The landlord can designate the breach as curable or not and may commence an eviction action after the ten days if not cured or incurable. If the material breach involves an obligation a tenant agreed to maintain and it affects the health and safety of any person (including the tenant), the cure period is five days.
  4. A 30-day notice can be given for any reason or no reason at all when the tenancy is month-to-month. The statute does not state that the notice must be given at the beginning or end of any particular month, only that it is to be given at least 30 days prior to the date of termination by the landlord.

Evictions/Forcible Detainer Actions

ARS §33-1377: Evictions are summary proceedings, meaning that there is not discovery, disclosures, trial by jury, counterclaims, cross-claims, or third-party complaints. A forcible detainer complaint is filed and a hearing is scheduled no less than three days or more than six days later. More often than not, the tenant does not bother showing up at the scheduled hearing, though the landlord or landlord’s counsel must still show. At the hearing, the judge may enter judgment for either side. The prevailing party is entitled to make a claim for attorney’s fees, costs, and any sustainable damages.

Writ of Restitution

ARS §12-1178: A Writ of Restitution is the court order mandating the constable to physically go and remove the tenant from the premises. It is obtainable by the landlord usually 5 days after a hearing is had by the court on the matter (which is done after giving notice, bringing suit, having the tenant served), though ARS §33-1377(E) allows for some discretion between 1 and 12 days after the hearing. Although the landlord is granted "immediate possession" to the premises, which merely means that the landlord doesn't have to give 2 days notice to the tenant before entering on the property, the landlord cannot have the tenant removed until issuance of the Writ of Restitution. The landlord can have the utilities turned off the day following issuance of the Writ of Restitution.

Personal Property Left/Abandoned by a Tenant

ARS §33-1368, 1370, 1372: If a tenant is evicted and leaves personal property at the residence, the landlord is to inventory the property and hold the property for 21 days. The tenant is responsible for the cost of storage and removal of the personal property, but the landlord cannot hold the personal property hostage for back rent. A tenant does not have the right to enter and take until the costs of storage and removal are paid in full, except when it comes to clothing, tools and books of a trade, and identification/financial documents, which can be removed at any time. If no further effort is made to recover the personal property, it can be sold and the proceeds used to pay costs of storage, removal, back rent, and other costs. Any excess proceeds are to be mailed to the tenant at the tenant’s last-known address. Twelve months after the tenant makes no effort to obtain the excess proceeds (if there are any), revert to the landlord.