If you’re looking for a viable way to enjoy the benefits of a home without having to commit to a lengthy mortgage, leasing is the way to go in most situations. However, circumstances can arise that make it necessary to terminate a lease agreement early. In Arizona, both landlords and tenants have certain rights and responsibilities when it comes to lease termination.
Understanding these laws can help both parties navigate the process of ending a lease agreement smoothly and legally. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at Arizona lease termination laws and what you need to know as a landlord or tenant.
Landlord and Tenant Obligations During an Active Lease
When a tenant and a property owner sign a lease agreement in Arizona, both parties are given specific rights. It’s essential to understand the landlord-tenant laws in Arizona when drafting and terminating a lease agreement.
As a landlord in Arizona, the lease agreement gives you the right to receive rent payment for the entire lease duration, whether or not the tenant is occupying the property. You can hold the tenant accountable for rent payment even after they break the lease, and you can withhold all or part of their security deposit if there is no legal justification for their breach of the agreement.
Likewise, as a property owner in Arizona, you have specific obligations under the lease agreement. These obligations include providing safe and habitable housing, following statewide landlord-entry rules, and respecting your tenant’s privacy. Failure to fulfill these duties could give your tenant the right to break the lease. Before holding the tenant accountable for breaking the lease, ensure that you’re not responsible for their decision to do so.
When Tenants Can Legally Break a Lease
There are several instances in which tenants can legally terminate a lease agreement, as provided in Title 33 of the Arizona Revised Statutes.
- Early termination clause: Some lease agreements have terms for early termination, usually in exchange for a penalty fee.
- Active military duty: Lease can be terminated by providing written notice, orders, or a letter from the commanding officer.
- Uninhabitable unit: Tenants have the right to a safe and liveable space, which landlords must maintain. If the landlord does not make necessary repairs within the allowable time period, a tenant would be considered “constructively evicted” and is no longer obligated under the lease.
- Landlord harassment or privacy violation: Harassment or violation of privacy may justify the termination of a lease. Landlord entry requires two days’ notice, repeated violation of privacy is considered “constructively evicted,” and landlords cannot lock out their tenants.
- Domestic violence: Arizona provides special rental provisions for tenants who are victims of domestic violence. Landlords are entitled to verify domestic violence status, and tenants can terminate a lease without penalty once there is proof of domestic violence. Landlords are also obligated to change the locks if requested by the victim.
When Landlords Can Terminate a Lease
If a tenant is behind on rent or breaks a lease rule, the landlord can take back possession of the property or start a legal action to do so. The legal action will follow certain rules and will determine who has the right to live in the property. The court may also require the tenant to pay damages, attorney fees, and costs.
If the landlord wins the legal action, the tenant can appeal the decision, but they have to pay a bond that covers the rent they owe plus any damages, attorney fees, costs, and rent that may be due during the appeal process.
It is important to note that any notice or legal action related to this law does not have to follow a specific form as long as it meets the required content and formatting.
How to Terminate a Lease in Arizona
In Arizona, tenants are not obligated to inform their landlord of their intention to leave when the lease has a fixed end date. However, if the lease is month-to-month, tenants must provide 30 days’ notice. For week-to-week leases, tenants must give 10 days’ notice before the end of the lease.
Tenants in Arizona can choose to deliver the notice of termination either in person or by mailing it to the landlord.
Landlord Obligations After a Lease Termination
When a tenant legally breaks a lease in Arizona, the landlord has a duty called the “duty to mitigate damages” to try to find a new tenant to take over the lease. The landlord cannot simply wait until the lease ends and then hold the tenant responsible for unpaid rent because this is not allowed under Arizona’s eviction laws (A.R.S. § 33-1370). The landlord must make reasonable efforts to re-rent the unit in order to minimize any financial losses.
Hiring a Real Estate Attorney in Arizona
If you are a landlord or tenant in Arizona, you’re going to want to seek legal advice before terminating a lease. An experienced eviction attorney can help you understand your rights and obligations and can represent you in court if necessary.
When hiring an attorney, it’s best to choose someone who is knowledgeable about Arizona real estate law and who has a track record of success in eviction cases.
Gottlieb Law has significant experiences with the challenges of terminating a rental agreement in Arizona. Our firm can help you determine if you have a qualifying cause under state law and pursue the process in court and with law enforcement, if necessary. Contact us today at 602-899-8188 to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment online.