July, 2011

Welcome to our new on-line monthly news letter.  We receive numerous questions daily on various issues concerning tenants and the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.  This section will address some of those questions, as well as some of the more humorous situations we have each month.

The first question was, “Is there a cap on increasing the amount of rent that a landlord can ask of a tenant after the lease expires?”  Obviously you can not raise the rent during the tenancy, however, there is no limit on raising it once the lease has expired and either the tenant wants to enter into a new lease or to continue on as a month to month tenant.  Most landlords will look at the fair market value of the rentals in the area, and determine what a comparable and fair rent increase is.

Another question was, “When the final disposition statement is sent to the tenants, do you need the actual proof of cost?”  The law only requires that you send out an itemized statement of the deductions to the tenant.  However, if the tenant challenges those, or takes you to court, you would need proof of the actual cost.  For instance, we had a client that charged a tenant $120.00 to trash out the apartment.  At court it was determined the maintenance man carried two (2) bags of trash to the dumpster which took him four (4) minutes, and he was paid $10.00 per hour.  Obviously, the actual cost for that charge was much less than what the tenant was charged for, and this could be considered a willful withholding of part of the tenants security deposit.

Another question involved tenants that had recently moved out, and when the management went to inspect the rental property there was a strong cigarette smell throughout the premises.  The question was, “What, if anything can we charge the tenant for that?”  Generally, if you do not have a restriction that prohibits smoking inside the rental property, there is not a lot the landlord can do to charge the tenant for cigarette smell in the rental property.  Many landlords are now prohibiting smoking inside the rental premises, and only allowing it in the outdoor area.  You should consider a non smoking provision, as the time and expense to remove smoke smell in an apartment can be extensive.

Two of our most humorous matters were the following: 

One client sent a letter asking for some advice concerning a tenant that did not like having children living above him.  The client’s statement was that he was, ”an older gentleman in his early fifties.”  In as much as I am 63, we found this rather humorous that I am well beyond being an older gentleman.

One of the best ever was the following:  The tenant allegedly sent an email to the manager requesting air filters for her apartment.  She also asked if management had any heavy, “flame resistant” tarps that the resident could borrow.  The resident also requested several fire extinguishers in case things got out of hand, and requested management not to ask why these were needed, as it was a personal matter.  The manager responded that she would send maintenance over to install the air filters, but that they did not provide fire extinguishers or tarps for residents, and wanted to know why the tenant would need such items.  The tenant’s response was, “It would not be a good idea for your maintenance person to enter my unit unattended.  There are certain “hazards” that could cause serious injury.  I would feel terrible if something were to happen.  If I am not at home, just leave the filters outside the door and I will install them myself.  I hope that is acceptable.  Also, would you happen to know the micron filtration rating on these air filters?  That information would be appreciated.  As far as the tarps and the fire extinguishers, there is no need to worry, my brother’s friend is going to deliver everything this weekend.  As far as why I need these things, well it’s probably best if you forget I ever even mentioned it.  You need not worry about a thing, with nearly fifteen years experience, only had to get the fire department involved once, and that incident was caused by a defective mercury switch on the detonator assembly.  Not even our fault.  So, no worries, forget I ever even mentioned it.  Take care.”  Of course the client contacted the police, who responded with SWAT, bomb squad, and Homeland Security.  It turned out that the tenant had not requested any of these items, but that an ex-stalker/boyfriend had set up an email account which appeared to come from this tenant’s apartment