Arizona Landlord-Tenant Law: Expectations vs. Reality

Posted by Glenn Bancroft

Owning rental properties can be an excellent way to bring in income and provide for yourself and your family. A lot can go awry, too, however, if you enter the process without all of the information you need—especially the correct legal information. How well do you know Arizona landlord-tenant law, for instance? Unless you’re a Tucson property manager, lawyer, or a highly experienced and well-read landlord, it’s unlikely you’ll know enough about Arizona landlord-tenant law to protect yourself and your Arizona investment properties.

These same laws are important to renters too, as any landlord-tenant law applies to the interactions between property owners and the people they are renting to. In the United States, each state has the right to set its own rental laws and each municipality may add their own, as well. This means that you must be familiar not only with landlord-tenant laws in Arizona, but also those in the city, town, and even county the rental property is located in.

In some cases, landlord-tenant laws seem somewhat predictable, but at other times they can be more tricky. Here are some of those less predictable parts of Arizona landlord-tenant law.
*Please note that Bancroft and Associates does not consider this list to be a substitute for legal or professional guidance or advice.

Landlords can charge whatever fees they want, as long the tenant signs the contract.

Reality: All non-refundable fees must be explained on paper.

In many rental agreements, you’ll find a non-refundable deposit fee. What this fee is for isn’t usually clear, but a tenant must pay it in order to move in. In Tucson, however, landlords aren’t allowed to charge non-refundable fees without disclosing the purpose of this deposit to the tenant in writing. A rental property management company can ensure this disclosure is properly written, which is usually found in the rental agreement.

The landlord may charge what they wish for the security deposit.

Reality: The maximum amount charged for a security deposit is set at the state level.

Landlords should always ask for a security deposit in order to protect themselves, just in case a tenant damages the property. A tenant has the potential to cause significant damage—more than a single month of rent would cover. While this may tempt landlords to charge a larger security deposit, the Arizona limit is the equivalent of one-and-a-half months of rent.

The landlord can take their time returning the security deposit.

Reality: The landlord has a limited number of days to return the security deposit after the tenant has moved out.

Landlords get busy and it can take some time to assess the vacated property and determine how much, if any, of the security deposit should be returned to the tenant. But ultimately, in Arizona, the clock is ticking: landlords must return all or part of the security deposit within 14 business days of the tenant moving out and/or provide written details of charges and deductions. If the landlord doesn’t meet these requirements, they may be taken to court and owe the tenant twice the amount of the security deposit plus any damages awarded by the court. When working with a property management company, on the other hand, the company will hold and return the security deposit on behalf of both parties.

Landlords must give several months’ notice when raising the rent.

Reality: Landlords only need to give 30 days’ notice.

Rent is a major expense for tenants, and any rent increase can be very stressful. It is natural, then, to assume the law would give them several months’ notice to adjust. In Arizona, however, that isn’t the case. A landlord only needs to provide 30 days’ notice before increasing the rent. Whether or not a landlord should give more notice regarding rental rate increases is a matter of personal opinion.

Rent may be paid several months late before a tenant can be evicted.

Reality: If a tenant is five days late paying rent, the landlord can start the eviction process.

We blame television and movies for this misconception. How many times have we seen a character getting hassled by their landlord for being weeks or months behind in rent? The assumption is that a landlord wouldn’t allow this unless they had to, but in Arizona, they certainly don’t. Not only is there not a multi-month grace period, but tenants are given less than one week to pay up before their landlord can legally start the eviction process.

If a landlord doesn’t make repairs, the tenant is stuck dealing with them.

Reality: Tenants can make delayed repairs and deduct the cost from their rent.

In Arizona, tenants have the right to live in a property that is safe, healthy, and in good repair. If a landlord takes too long to fix an issue that impacts the habitability of the space, the tenant can fix it on their own and deduct some or all of the repair costs from their rent, assuming they provide documentation of the expenses. There are a lot of laws surrounding this rule, however, so a tenant shouldn’t withhold rent without seeking professional guidance from a property manager or lawyer first.

Landlords can access the property whenever they wish.

Reality: Landlords must give a two-day notice before entry.

While the idea that someone can’t freely enter a property they legally own may seem strange, there’s good reason for this. From the tenant perspective, you wouldn’t want someone to have free access to your living space or office. Having a stranger come and go as they please, sometimes without your knowledge—is just an invasion of privacy. That’s why the Arizona landlord-tenant law specifies that a two-day notice must be given before entry.

Why Understanding Landlord-Tenant Law Is Important

Landlord and tenant laws in Arizona are designed to protect both parties. Whether you own rental properties or are renting in Arizona, knowing these laws means knowing your rights. Keep in mind that violating these laws can result in lawsuits, court dates, and owing damages to the other party.

If your property is located in Tucson or the surrounding area, Bancroft and Associates has the know-how to ensure you’re educated and have the most up-to-date information about landlord-tenant laws. As both a residential and commercial property manager in Tucson, we’re here to help you rent out your investment property or find your next home or business space in the Tucson area.

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Updated: 14th August, 2019 8:02 AM.