The Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (Act) applies to most residential lease agreements. It does not apply to certain rental agreements such as those for hotel rooms, college dormitory, fraternity or sorority houses or public housing.
Landlords and tenants have certain rights and responsibilities, many of which should be or are required to be listed in all Arizona residential lease agreements covered by the Act. As a landlord, you may not refuse to rent or treat a tenant differently based on race, color, religion, gender, national origin, familial status or disability. You cannot refuse to rent to tenants with children unless the unit is in an adult only area, housing that is restricted to older adults or under certain deed restrictions.
Any leased premises must be delivered to a tenant in a habitable condition, or one where there is hot water, heat, air conditioning, electricity, appliances are in working condition and it complies with all building and health and safety codes.
There are certain terms that an Arizona residential lease agreement should include:
- Name and address of landlord, or agent, where rent is to be paid and where all notices and legal documents are to be sent or served
- Names of the tenants and authorized occupants
- Description of the premises
- Term of the lease—weekly, monthly, yearly or other
- Rent, due date, grace period and late fees
- Security deposit and procedures for its return at end of lease or when unit is vacated
- Check-in list for damages and current condition of the premises
- Entry of landlord upon 2-days’ notice to make repairs or improvements unless an emergency
- Obligations of the landlord
- Obligations of the tenant to maintain the premises, keep it sanitary, not do any alterations without consent and to not disturb other tenants
- Notice to tenant for nonpayment of rent and for other violations of the lease
- Notice if tenant or landlord wishes to terminate a month-to-month lease
- Responsibility for utilities
- What appliances are provided
- Common areas and parking spaces, if applicable
- Pet clause
- Subletting clause
- Disclosure of the presence of any lead-based paint or hazards on the property for rental property built before 1978—both landlord and tenant must sign an EPA-approved disclosure form and the tenant provided an EPA pamphlet entitled “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home.”
- Notice that copies of the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act are available for free from the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office
- Pool safety notice if a swimming pool is accessible to tenants
While landlords and tenants are free to negotiate over terms, there are some provisions that are not permitted either because they conflict with local, state or federal laws or are contrary to public policy. These often include the following:
- Waiver of right to sue landlord for negligence or any other violation of the landlord’s obligation to provide a habitable premises and to make repairs
- Waiver of notice to quit and eviction proceedings for nonpayment of rent or other lease violations
- Waiver of damages
- Any provision that waives any part of the law on security deposits
- Allowing entry at any time without notice
- Allowing lien on tenant’s personal property
A security deposit can be no more than one and one-half times the rent. When the tenant vacates the premises, the landlord has 14-days to return the deposit or provide an itemized list of the deductions for damages. The tenant must be provided written notice of the right to be present during the move-out inspection unless the tenant is being forced to vacate for a material breach that is not amenable to being cured or remedied or the landlord has reasonable cause to fear violence or intimidation by the tenant.
A landlord’s failure to follow these procedures can result in being liable to the tenant for twice the amount of the security deposit.
A landlord has certain specific obligations when leasing a unit, which of course means that essential utilities be provided and that the unit is safe and complies with all building, safety, health and sanitary codes along with advising the tenant of what constitutes a breach that can lead to eviction.
A landlord has to provide a tenant with certain documents and disclosures:
- Lead paint disclosure
- Notice that copies of the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act are available free from the Secretary of State’s office
- Pool safety notice
- Move-in checklist and notice when it is due
Regarding entry, there is no set time such as 24-hours but the landlord is required to make reasonable arrangements. A tenant is not allowed to deny a landlord access so long as these arrangements are made and the landlord is not abusing this right or is doing this to harass the tenant.
Termination of the Lease
A tenant or landlord has to give 30-days’ notice to terminate a monthly lease. If the landlord wishes to terminate the lease for nonpayment of rent, a notice giving the tenant 5 days to pay the full rent or vacate the unit is served. If the landlord accepts partial payment without a written statement to the tenant that such acceptance is not a waiver of the right to continue with eviction proceedings, then such proceedings are indeed waived.
For other lease violations, the landlord must serve a 10-days’ notice that the lease will be terminated unless the breach is remedied. The notice must specify what provision of the lease is in breach. If the breach affects safety or health, the landlord must so specify that in a notice and require the tenant to either immediately cure the violation, if an emergency, or allow 14-days to remedy the condition or the landlord may enter the premises to remedy the condition and charge the tenant by adding any costs to the next month’s rent.
Service Members Civil Relief Act
If the tenant is entering the military or being deployed to active duty for not less than 90 days and the unit was leased prior to entry or receiving orders, the tenant may terminate the lease with no further obligations provided a 30-days written notice and verification of such service or orders is submitted.
A landlord has certain obligations to the tenant. If there is a material breach of the lease or of the landlord’s covenant to provide a habitable residence, the tenant can send a written notice of the obligation or duty that has been violated with 10-days to cure the breach or the tenant may void the lease. The cure date and when the lease may be voided may be 5-days from receipt of the written notice if the breach refers to a condition that affects the safety or health of the tenant
Under limited circumstances, a tenant may withhold rent only if the landlord has been notified but has failed to provide, continue to provide or has cut off running water, heat, electricity, heat or air conditioning. A tenant may recover damages based on the diminution in the rental value of the premises or rent out substitute housing until the missing utilities are provided. If the rent is in excess of the rent charged under the lease, the tenant may recover the excess. Otherwise, the tenant is excused from paying the rent during the period of the landlord’s noncompliance. A tenant may also pay the utility company directly and deduct those payments from the rent.
No Retaliatory Eviction
An Arizona landlord must follow the notice and/or eviction processes if he/she wants to force a tenant out and may not use self-help measures called “retaliatory eviction.” Retaliatory eviction refers to instances where a landlord forces, or attempts to force, a tenant out by threats, changing locks, turning off utilities or taking the tenant’s property without an eviction order from the court.
A landlord also may not evict a tenant who has exercised certain rights such as joining a tenants’ union, notifying authorities of the landlord’s failure to correct violations of the housing or health code, who withheld rent for noncompliance with providing essential utilities, or who took court action because the landlord included unenforceable provisions in the lease. If the eviction proceeding is within 6-months of these activities, it is presumed to be retaliatory in nature and can subject the landlord to damages.
An Arizona residential lease agreement must contain certain terms and provide for certain documents to be given to the tenant. A landlord’s conduct must comply with certain laws or you can be forced to pay substantial damages. Consult with an experienced landlord/tenant attorney if you have any questions regarding your duties and obligations as a landlord and what you should and may include in your lease agreements.