In Arizona, as with any other state, if rent is paid in a timely manner in exchange for inhabiting property, a landlord-tenant relationship is established (even without a written lease), and with this relationship comes rights and responsibilities for both parties.
Basic Landlord Responsibilities
Keep the rental fit to live in. The landlord is required to provide housing that is habitable and to make repairs in a timely manner when required.
Quiet enjoyment. The landlord is required not to disturb the tenant’s rights to peacefully and reasonably use their rented space.
Basic Tenant Responsibilities
Pay rent on time. If the tenant does not pay rent in full and in a timely manner, the landlord has the right to take action to end the tenancy.
Cover excessive damages. Tenants are responsible to cover the costs of damages to the property beyond normal “wear and tear”.
With that said, Arizona varies from other states on additional rights and responsibilities for both landlords and tenants. Arizona law even varies on both the interpretation of the above rights and the rules on handling violations.
Warranty of Habitability in Arizona
Landlord Responsibilities. Landlords in Arizona are required to provide certain amenities to their tenants while also ensuring that the same amenities remain in full working order. Specifically, landlords are responsible for providing:
- Hot and cold water
- HVAC equipment
- Reliable plumbing
- Reliable in-line electric outlets and lights
- Proper sanitation facilities
- Trash cans (for the purpose of garbage removal)
- Elevators (only in buildings that necessitate their use)
After receiving a request in writing, a landlord in Arizona is required to make all necessary repairs within 5 days. This applies to the amenities listed above, as well as any other amenities provided by the landlord within the lease agreement.
Tenant Responsibilities. Tenants in Arizona are not specifically responsible for performing any kind of task beyond those necessary for maintaining a safe environment. This may include making minor, preventative repairs. Should such a repair be needed, they have 14 days to address it before facing eviction.
However, when it comes to more major repairs to any of a rental unit’s essential amenities, tenants in Arizona are able to complete the task on their own. If they do so, they can deduct the costs associated with that repair from the next month’s rent. These same tenants cannot withhold rent entirely, though, even if their landlord fails to make a requested repair inside the 5 day timeframe.
Evictions in Arizona
Arizona allows landlords to evict their tenants for several reasons, including the following:
- Nonpayment of rent – After the rent payment period passes, landlords must give their tenant a 5-day notice as well as a viable opportunity to pay their missing rent. On the sixth calendar day after this notice is provided, the landlord may initiate the legal eviction process.
- Violation of lease terms – If a term of the lease is violated, landlords must inform their tenants of the same. This must come in the form of a 5-day Notice to Cure (if the violation effects health and safety) or a 10-day Notice to Cure (if it is a non-hazardous violation.
- Illegal Acts – Arizona enumerates some illegal behaviors that would justify eviction. When such an action takes place, the landlord must supply the tenant with an Unconditional Quit Notice. This notice must inform the tenant that their lease is being terminated immediately. Illegal acts addressed under Arizona law include:
- Discharging a firearm on the property
- Assaulting or threatening others
- Committing homicide
- Engaging in prostitution
- Participating in “criminal street gang activity”
- Using or selling illegal drugs
After filing for an eviction, a judge will determine if the landlord has a worthwhile justification for taking such action. Even if the tenant chooses to appeal this ruling, the landlord may still force them out with a Writ of Restitution, after which point a remaining tenant can be arrested for criminal trespass.
Evictions without a lease. A “tenant at will” in Arizona can be evicted, even without having committed a negative behavior. To do this, the landlord must provide notice equal to the tenant’s regular rent pay period. So, for example, month-to-month renters are required to receive 30-days’ prior notice, even if they are not currently engaged in a lease.
Withholding rent during this notice period empowers a landlord to shorten the period to 5 days, after which point the eviction may proceed.
Illegal Evictions. Tenants in Arizona cannot be evicted if they meet the terms of any type of notice, including for those that involve a violation of a lease’s terms. Tenants in Arizona can also not be evicted as a matter of discrimination or retaliation, including for reporting a health or safety violation to government authorities.
Security Deposits in Arizona
Arizona’s statutory code provides the following protections to tenants with regards to security deposits:
- Standard Limit / Maximum Amount – Arizona tenants cannot be charged more than 1 ½ their standard rent in value as a security deposit. However, tenants in Arizona can pay prepaid rent of up to 2 months, if they so choose.
- Interest – All security deposits held by a landlord in Arizona must accrue interest of “not less than 5%” annually. This interest can be paid out annually or be compounded annually.
- Time Limit for Return – Following the end of tenancy, a landlord has 14 days to return all or part of their former tenant’s security deposit. If deductions are necessary, this payment must include an itemized list of charges.
- Penalty if Not Returned on Time – If a security deposit is not returned in the requisite time period, Arizona tenants are able to ask for double the held deposit’s value as a late payment. This includes cases where held interest from the deposit is not paid out fully or at the proper time.
- Allowable Deductions – Security deposits in Arizona may be used to cover any remaining rent payments not paid by the tenant at the end of their tenancy. Also, this deposit can be used to cover any costs relating to the repair of damages caused by the tenant.
Lease Termination in Arizona
Notice Requirements. Terminating a lease in Arizona comes with several requirements relating to how much notice must be provided in advance. These following requirements apply primarily under amicable circumstances, when a lease is set to naturally expire:
- Week-to-week – 10 days’ notice is required.
- Month-to-month – 30 days’ notice is required.
Legally Breaking a Lease Early. Most tenants in Arizona choose to break their lease through an established early termination clause in the lease. However, if such a provision is not present in their lease, tenants in Arizona may still be able to terminate their lease early under one of these following justifications:
- Active Military Duty – federal law allows service members who are relocating due to deployment or permanent change of station to terminate their lease as early as 30 days from the next rent period.
- Unit is Uninhabitable – A tenant may be considered “constructively evicted” if their landlord fails to make necessary repairs within the prescribed period of resolution time. Should a unit become no longer fit for habitability, a tenant in Arizona may begin the process of terminating their lease early.
- Landlord Harassment – If the landlord violates an established right of entry policy (set at 2 days prior by the state), the tenant may file for lease termination. Similarly, a tenant who is “locked out” by a landlord who has unilaterally changed that tenant’s locks may file for tease termination.
Tenants in Arizona who are unable to break their lease will remain liable to pay all rent amounts until the lease agreement comes to an end. However, those that successfully end their lease may still be required to pay rent until a new tenant can be found for the unit. Landlords in Arizona must make a reasonable effort to re-rent, though, in order to “mitigate damages” resulting from the loss of a tenant.
Rent Increases & Related Fees in Arizona
Rent control & increases. Arizona’s current statutory code neither requires landlords to state a reason for raising rent, nor does it limit the rate at which that rate increases (based upon a state preclusion of local rent control policies). Landlords in Arizona also don’t need to give any notice of their intent to raise the rent. However, these rent raises can only go into effect at the start of the next periodic rent period.
Arizona landlords are also forbidden from using a raise in rent prices as a means of retaliation against one or more tenants. Along the same lines, an Arizona landlord cannot raise one or more tenants’ rents in a manner than can be construed as discriminatory based upon a class protected by local, state, or federal law.
Rent related fees. Because Arizona does not maintain a statute regulating the value of late fees, it is presumed that landlords can charge (either per-case or automatically) late fees of any value once a tenant fails to pay rent on the agreed upon. Meanwhile, Arizona does limit so-called “bounced check” fees to only $25, plus any amount charged by the landlord’s bank to process the inadequately funded check.
Housing Discrimination in Arizona
Federal Protections. The Fair Housing Act protects tenants from being discriminated against due to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. However, the law does not apply to all housing, such as owner-occupied homes with 4 or fewer units or housing operated by religious organizations.
State Protections. Arizona does not provide any supplementary protections to current or prospective tenants in the field of housing discrimination. Instead, they facilitate the protection of only those classes outlined in the federal Fair Housing Act.
Discriminatory Acts & Penalties. Arizona’s Department of Housing outlines a fair number of practices or activities that may constitute housing discrimination under the state’s judgement. Among other potential infractions, landlords may be found liable for housing discrimination if they participate in any of the following:
- Refusing to show, rent, sell, or negotiate for a rentable unit
- Charging more for rent or fees (including security deposits)
- Advertising that a certain type of person is wanted for the sale or rental of a unit
- Claiming that a unit is not available when it is in fact on the market
- Telling owners or renters to move because the neighborhood is being “integrated by minorities”
- Refusing to permit reasonable accommodations for assistive aides, assistive animals, parking, or physical modifications to existing properties
Arizona’s public-oriented documentation on housing discrimination does not indicate specific penalties prescribed for one or more instance of certified housing discrimination. Rather, each case is handled individual Arizona Attorney General’s Civil Rights Division.
Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in Arizona
These are just a few more potential topics relating to landlord-tenant relations in Arizona that may come up over the course of your lease agreement.
Landlord Entry. Arizona’s statutory code dictates that landlords must be allowed “reasonable” access to an occupied unit in order to accomplish routine tasks such as repairs and unit showings. Specifically, landlords must provide at least 2 days’ notice before undertaking one of these routine tasks within an occupied unit. The precise method of communicating this notice must be agreed upon between the landlord and tenant in advance, though (ideally in writing).
However, in cases of emergency, a landlord in Arizona is able to enter an occupied unit at their own discretion. That being said, an Arizona landlord cannot abuse this or their other entry privileges. Doing so may result in accusations of harassment from their tenant, which can serve as grounds for legal lease termination.
Small Claims Court. Arizona empowers landlords and their tenants to handle disputes through their small claims court system. Claims from either party can only be valued at up to $3,500 to qualify for this legal channel, though. However, some local courts allow for cases of greater value. Regardless of the value, Arizona’s small claims court does not handle eviction cases.
Mandatory Disclosures. Arizona landlords must make several types of disclosures prior to or soon after the initiation of a new lease with a tenant. These mandatory disclosures include:
- Lead-based paint. For houses built prior to 1978, federal law requires landlords to provide tenants with information about lead based paint hazards. Read more.
- Bedbugs. Regardless of the presence of bedbugs, Arizona landlords must provide educational material about them to all new and existing tenants.
- Property Authority. Landlords in Arizona must disclose, in writing, any individual or group who is responsible for managing their rented unit. This disclosure must include, at the very least, this individual or group’s name and address.
- Purpose of Nonrefundable Fees. Arizona landlord are also required to disclose the purpose of any nonrefundable fees that are to be paid by the tenant, either at the beginning of tenancy or over its course.
- Landlord Tenant Act. Before tenancy begins, Arizona landlords must disclose the existence of the state’s Landlord Tenant Act. Landlords may also include a copy of the act with their tenant’s leasing paperwork.
Changing the Locks. In Arizona, landlords are not allowed to change a tenant’s locks in order to force a “lock out” to obtain rent or other concessions. However, landlords are required to change locks if they are requested to do so by a victim of domestic abuse. The tenant must pay for this procedure to be completed, though.
Arizona Resources for Landlords & Tenants
If you still have questions about your rights and responsibilities as either a landlord or a tenant in Arizona, these following resources may help you find the answers you need.
City of Phoenix Landlord and Tenant Program – Current residents of Phoenix have an opportunity to learn about the many dimensions of a landlord-tenant relationship, from documentation to each party’s responsibilities under state and local law. This program also offers counseling services that can help landlords and tenants in dispute work out their differences and discover a mutually-beneficial path forward.
Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act -The laws included in this digital digest make up the framework for all legal landlord-tenant relationships in Arizona. This includes several pertinent statutes that either a landlord or a tenant may want to reference when a dispute arises. Though these laws and provisions are not current enforced by any single party, the Arizona Department of Housing does play a crucial role in ensuring public awareness of their existence.
Southern Arizona Legal Aid, Inc. – Should a dispute be too challenging or too heated for a landlord or a tenant to resolve on their own, Arizona residents outside of Maricopa County can turn to any of the legal resources included in this linked document. Landlords in particular may find these resources important to keep on hand, in case they should ever need to enforce the provisions of a lease against a non-compliant tenant.