Common Landlord Mistakes

Arizona landlords have many different aspects they must manage to be successful. Listed below are a few of the more common mistakes Arizona landlords make and how to avoid them.

failure to fix tenant’s Requests for Repairs

For instance, Arizona landlords must provide adequate heating and cooling to their tenants.

A.R.S. § 33-1324(A)(4) of the Arizona Landlord-Tenant Act states:  
Landlord is to “Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning…”

A.R.S. § 33-1324(A)(4)

A.R.S. § 33-1324(A)(6) of the Arizona Landlord-Tenant Act states: Landlord is to provide “reasonable heat and reasonable air-conditioning or cooling where such units are installed and offered, when required by seasonal weather conditions…”

A.R.S. § 33-1324(A)(6)

If you are a landlord in Arizona and the A/C unit breaks down in the middle of the summer, you better fix the air-conditioner as fast as possible! You can create real problems for yourself if you don’t. It gets so hot in the summer that people and pets can suffer serious injury if they’re left in a house without any cooling. Especially if there are young children or the elderly.

A.R.S. § 33-1364 and A.R.S. § 33-1365 provides a list of financial damages an Arizona landlord is responsible for if they do not comply with the above statutes.

In addition to opening up yourself to legal problems it makes financial sense to maintain heating and cooling for your tenants. Turnover with tenants is very expensive for the landlord. Not only do you have to rehab the property but there is the cost of finding the new tenants and possible vacancies while you look for them.

If you tenants are comfortable and happy there is a greater likelihood that they will pay their rent on time and stay in the property for a longer period. If your tenants are uncomfortable, they will vacate at their earliest opportunity.

Does your Arizona residential lease agreement require the landlord to pay the utilities? If you’re a landlord and responsible for paying your tenant’s utilities then listen up.

Section 33-1364(B) of the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act states: “A landlord shall provide all utilities and services specified in the lease agreement.”

Section 33-1364(A) states in part: “If contrary to the rental agreement…the landlord deliberately or negligently fails to supply running water, gas or electrical service, or both if applicable, and reasonable amounts of hot water or heat, air-conditioning or cooling…the tenant may give reasonable notice to the landlord and do one of the following:

  • Obtain the utilities and then deduct their actual cost from the rent.
  • (If applicable) Pay the landlord’s delinquent utility bill and deduct from rent the actual cost of the payment the tenant made to restore utility services.
  • Obtain reasonable substitute housing during the period of the landlord’s noncompliance, in which case the tenant is excused from paying rent for the period of the landlord’s noncompliance.

Section 33-1364(D) states in part: “If a landlord is in violation of…this section, the tenant may recover damages, costs and reasonable attorneys fees and obtain injunctive relief.”

Additionally, you cannot deliberately cut off an Arizona tenant’s utilities because they are delinquent on rent and you’re mad. The utilities cannot be shut off until you have properly evicted them. Shutting off their utilities while they are still occupying the property is considered an act of retaliation.

What does all of this mean to you as an Arizona landlord? If the lease agreement says you are to pay the utilities then make sure it happens!

failure to Provide Tenant a copy of the Lease

Arizona landlords and property managers must make sure to comply with Section 33-1322 of the Arizona Landlord and Tenant Act! Failure to comply with this section can have very negative consequences. A.R.S. 33-1322 of the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act discuss the “Disclosure and Tender of Written Rental Agreement.”

A.R.S. 33-1322(A) states in part: “The landlord…shall disclose to the tenant in writing at or before the commencement of the tenancy the name and address of each of the following:
1. The person authorized to manage the premises.
2. A person authorized to receive court papers and to receive notices and demands.

33-1322(B) requires the landlord to inform the tenant in writing that the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act is available on the Arizona department of housing’s website.  

33-1322(C) requires the landlord to keep this information current and refurnish the information when requested by the tenant. 

Under A.R.S. 33-1322(E), an Arizona landlord is required to provide a copy of the signed lease agreement to the tenant within a reasonable time.

An Arizona landlord’s failure to provide their Arizona tenant a signed copy of the lease agreement is “deemed a material noncompliance by the landlord.” A material breach of the lease agreement by a landlord gives the tenants certain rights to sue for damages or even move out of the property without penalty.

So Arizona landlords, do the right thing! Make it a priority to do all of the little things right and it will save you money and time down the road. If you need help from an Arizona real estate attorney then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-702-1608 or message us HERE.

failure to complete the lease agreement

If you are an Arizona landlord it is extremely important that you take the time to properly complete the residential lease agreement. One important item is to fill in all the blank spaces on the lease agreement. The Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act says that if any of the blank spaces are left empty this is a material breach of the lease agreement. A material breach of the lease agreement by the landlord would allow the tenant to unilaterally terminate the lease agreement! Don’t let this happen to you.

A.R.S. 33-1324(A)(6) states in pertinent part; “…A written rental agreement shall have all blank spaces completed. Noncompliance with this subsection shall be deemed a material noncompliance by the landlord…of the rental agreement.”

Tenant’s failure to sign LEASE AGREEMENT

Occasionally, I’ll be asked by a landlord what they should do in situations where they don’t have a signed lease agreement and the tenant isn’t paying. The Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act addresses this exact issue.

Section 33-1314(B) of the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act states: “In the absence of a rental agreement, the tenant shall pay as rent the fair rental value for the use and occupancy of the dwelling unit.”

This rule extends to all people and not just formal tenants. So, for instance, if you invite a friend into your house to rent a room for $500 a month. Even without a written lease agreement you can evict that friend for non-payment of rent.

The “fair rental value” of an Arizona rental property can be disputed by reasonable people it is best to make sure that you have a written lease agreement in place before ever letting a tenant move into the property.

FAILING TO PROVIDE tenants with receipts

If you are an Arizona landlord, you should keep track of all payments from your tenant, and providing a receipt for each payment received. If you are a tenant, you should be keeping track of all payments to your landlord, and asking for a receipt for each payment tendered.

Receipts keep everyone on the same page. If you end up having to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent, and you have kept an accurate ledger, you will have a much easier time evicting your tenant than a landlord who is giving it his best guess, and doesn’t have any documentation to back up his claim. Don’t be the doctor who isn’t using his own water tablets. Receipts are your friend. If you need help from an Arizona real estate attorney then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-702-1608 or message us HERE.

FAILURE TO Register with the County

Did you know that as an Arizona landlord you must register your rental property with the county assessor? Yes, that’s right. The Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act you must register your rental property or potentially face serious consequences.

Section § 33-1902(A) of the Arizona Residential Landlord Tenant Act states in part: “An owner of residential rental property shall maintain with the assessor in the county where the property is located information required by this section…The following information shall be maintained.”

  1. The name, address and telephone number of the property owner.
  2. If the property is owned by a corporation, limited liability company, partnership, limited partnership, trust or real estate investment trust, the name, address and telephone number.
  3. the street address and parcel number of the property.
  4. The year the building was built.

A.R.S. § 33-1902(C) states that if the owner has not filed the information required by this section with the county assessor and the residential rental property is occupied by a tenant the tenant may choose to terminate the tenancy. The tenant must first deliver a 10 day notice to the landlord requesting compliance with this section. If the owner does not register the property within 10 days after receipt of the notice, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement and the landlord shall return all prepaid rent and security deposit to the tenant

Any changes to the property owner’s contact information must be updated with the county within 10-days. Once the rental property has been registered with the county they reserve the right to perform periodic inspections.

Registering a rental property with the county is pretty painless. They request basic property information such as; parcel number, street address, ownership information, and statutory agent information if applicable. Plus, Maricopa county requires a statutory agent for all property owners who live out of state. You can reach the Maricopa county assessor’s office by clicking HERE.

Don’t Delay the Inevitable!

As a property manager or landlord, you might often choose to let late payments extend passed a due date. Landlord’s who delay sending default notices and commencing evictions action often risk enduring longer “rent-free” periods than if the landlord immediately responded to the first delinquency. A landlord is generally better able to obtain overdue lease payments if the landlord promptly contacts the delinquent tenant to work out payment details.

In some instances, the landlord may obtain full payment. In other circumstances, the landlord may make concessions by providing a lease modification (i.e., lower rent payments; forbear a portion of future rent payments; etc.) so the tenant will agree to remain in the premises. In yet other situations, the landlord may need to pursue eviction proceedings. It is important to you bottom line, to attempt to minimize your risk.

Holding off on the eviction process, while negotiating with your tenant.

It is necessary to pursue eviction, purely for business purposes. As a landlord, you must increase your leverage, as you start the negotiation process. It provided a landlord the ability to dangle a carrot in front of his tenant, and create motivation for change! If the tenant cooperates in the negotiations and pays at least some of the past due rent, the tenant will obtain a lease modification. If the tenant is does not cooperate, the tenant will be evicted.

Assuming the tenant cooperates and a settlement is reached, the eviction may be cancelled, but a landlord cannot obtain a refund for court filing costs. Two other benefits of starting an eviction while negotiating with a tenant is that (1) the proceeding give you a firm deadline for an agreement, and (2) if negotiations break down, the tenant will have to vacate the property. 

Ignoring your tenant’s imminent bankruptcy

As soon as a tenant files for bankruptcy, all legal proceedings against the tenant must be immediately halted. Pending lawsuits and eviction proceedings are also included! As a landlord, you must begin eviction proceedings against any tenant that is expected to declare bankruptcy. Once in bankruptcy, a tenant may be able to remain in the property rent-free for up to 60 days. It is usually far less costly to pursue an eviction proceeding than to be enveloped into a tenant’s bankruptcy action as the landlord and/or creditor. IMPORTANT! Eviction proceedings can take several weeks to complete.

If you are an Arizona landlord and need the assistance of an experienced Arizona attorney then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-702-1608 or message us HERE.

The Dunaway Law Group provides this information as a service to clients and other friends for educational purposes only. It should not be construed or relied on as legal advice and does not create a lawyer-client or attorney-prospective client relationship. The law changes quickly and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. As such, readers should not act upon this information without seeking advice from professional advisers. Additionally, this Firm limits its practice to the states of Arizona and New York.

Author: Clint Dunaway

Arizona attorney.