Arizona Landlord Tenant Law
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Rental Property
Almost everyone has been involved in rental real estate in some fashion or another. Whether it is as a landlord or a tenant, for residential or commercial purposes, rental issues effect us all. We are frequently asked questions regarding rental property or landlord tenant issues and wanted to provide the answers to some of those common questions.
1) I am considering buying investment rental property, should I buy it in my own name?
No. Before buying any rental property the first thing you should do is to establish a company or other legal organization of some sort to own the property. This is important for a few reasons. First, the company will provide you personally with liability protection from accidents that occur on the property. Additionally, the company will also have agreements that discuss how the business and affairs of the company will run, which will reduce the possibility of conflicts between you and any other owners of the property. By forming a company you can also achieve certain tax benefits depending upon the type of organization you form.
2) My Landlord refuses to repair my apartment or house, what should I do?
Under Arizona law a landlord has an obligation to maintain a rental property in a fit and habitable condition and with all required services, such as water and gas, operational. If the landlord fails to provide a fit and habitable premises the tenant has two options: 1) If the cost to correct the problem is under $300 or one half of the monthly rent, whichever is greater, the tenant may provide written notice to the landlord that the tenant intends to fix the problem at the landlords cost. If the landlord doesn’t fix the problem within ten days, or less in the event of any emergency, the tenant may fix the problem and deduct the cost of the repair from the next months rent so long as an itemized statement and lien release are included with the rent. 2) If the problems relate to essential service such as water, gas or air conditioning, the tenant may repair the problem regardless of cost, seek damages related to the decrease in rental value, or move to suitable housing and be excused from paying rent for so long as the landlord refuses to fix the problem. The failure to repair the premises may also be a breach of the rental agreement which would trigger the tenants right to terminate the lease. Any such termination would be controlled by the rental agreement.
3) My Tenants are not paying the rent, what should I do?
The answer to this question depends upon whether the property is residential or commercial. For commercial property if rent is past due for more than five days, the landlord has the ability to reenter the property and retake possession of the premises, i.e. change the locks. The Landlord may also seize personal property located in the premises to pay any rent due to the Landlord. If the rent is not paid within sixty days the landlord may sell the personal property.
For residential property, the landlord does not have the same power. Rather the landlord must follow a statutory procedure to recover possession of the property. The first step is for the landlord to provide a five day notice of the breach of the agreement, i.e. the failure to pay rent. If the rent is not paid within this five day period the landlord may then commence a court action to recover possession of the premises and to receive a judgment for the outstanding rent due to the landlord.
4) I have moved out but I have not received my security deposit back what should I do?
The first thing you should do is to call your former landlord and ensure that your landlord has your proper mailing address to send your security deposit back. The problem may simply be that your landlord sent the deposit to the wrong address, or did not know where to send the deposit. If this does not resolve the problem you have a potential cause of action against your landlord. Under Arizona law, your landlord has an obligation to return your security deposit within fourteen days, excluding weekends and holidays. If the landlord fails to return the deposit within this time you are entitled to your deposit back plus an amount equal to twice the deposit as additional damages.
The answers provided above are general answers that may or may not be applicable to your exact situation. As such, the answers should not be relied upon exclusively. If you have any legal issues, it is best to consult with your legal counsel to ensure the course of conduct that is right for you.