In Arizona, self-help evictions and retaliatory evictions are illegal. Self-help evictions occur when landlords try to remove a tenant (i.e., change locks or decrease utilities) without a court order. Retaliatory evictions are when a tenant exercises their legal rights (i.e., making a complaint) and the landlord retaliates by an eviction.
Self-Help Evictions in Arizona
Yes, self-help evictions are illegal in Arizona. A landlord may not remove or exclude a tenant from the dwelling unit by:
- Diminishing or interrupting services (i.e., electricity, gas, water, other essential services).
- Making an unlawful entry or making a lawful entry in an unreasonable manner.
- Harassing the tenant (i.e., threats of physical violence, physical intimidation).
- Changing the locks.
A landlord may not take possession of the dwelling unit unless doing so by court order or the dwelling unit is considered “abandoned.”
A dwelling unit is considered abandoned under the following circumstances:
- The tenant is absent for 7 days without notice, rent has not been paid in 10 days and the tenant’s personal property has been removed from the dwelling unit; or
- The tenant is absent for 5 days and rent has not been paid for 5 days and the tenant’s property remains in the dwelling unit.
Retaliatory Evictions in Arizona
Yes, retaliatory evictions are illegal in Arizona. A landlord may not retaliate by filing an eviction action because a tenant exercised a legally protected right (i.e., complaining about a housing violation).
Tenants are protected from landlord retaliation if they have exercised the following legal rights:
- Complaining to a governmental agency about a building or housing code violation that materially affects the tenant’s health and safety.
- Complaining to the landlord about a lease violation.
- Organizing or becoming a member of a tenant’s union or similar organization.
- Filing an action against the landlord.
Arizona landlords may not file an eviction action within 6 months of a tenant exercising their legal right as it creates a presumption that the landlord’s conduct is retaliatory.
However, if a landlord retaliates, a landlord may legally file an eviction action under the following circumstances:
- The violation of the building or housing code was caused by the lack of reasonable care by the tenant (or tenant’s guests).
- The tenant is delinquent on rent. It’s important to note that the filing of an eviction action due to a tenant’s nonpayment of rent does not release the landlord from the liability of retaliation.
Consequences for Illegal Evictions in Arizona
In Arizona, if a landlord is found guilty of using self-help measures to evict a tenant, the landlord could be liable for 2 months’ rent or twice the amount of actual damages sustained.
If the landlord is found guilty of retaliation, the landlord could be liable for 2 months’ periodic rent and twice the actual damages sustained.
In addition to the monetary damages awarded by the court, the tenant may also:
- Recover possession of the rental unit; or
- Terminate the rental agreement and recover the security deposit.