August 2011

The following questions came into our office and these were the answers that were provided.

The landlord had an apartment that appeared to be occupied but the electric had been turned off and the apartment was very dirty and disgusting.  The refrigerator had maggots in it and the dishes looked like they had been sitting in the sink for weeks.  What could we do?  The answer is you could consider an immediate eviction, and this should be successful as long as you can prove there is serious property damage inside the apartment, such as the carpet needing replacement, et cetera.  The other option would be a five (5) day health and safety notice requiring the tenant to get the electric back on and the apartment cleaned within the five (5) days.  You can also enter without a two (2) day notice because this would be considered an emergency and you could do whatever cleaning was needed to correct the most serious problems such as the refrigerator.

A tenant was given a ten (10) day non-compliance notice at the beginning of the month because their power had been transferred back into the owners name since she could not pay her bill.  The ten (10) day notice required her to get the power back into her name.  The question was whether a second ten (10) day, or five (5) day health and safety non compliance notice needed to be served.  The answer is no, as long as you have not taken any rent, the first ten (10) day notice would be in full force and effect.

The tenant on the lease allowed a relative to occupy the rental with them.  The relative was listed as occupant only and did not sign the lease.  The tenant now wants the occupant out of the apartment, suspecting drug activity.  Other than evicting the good tenant, how could the relative be removed from the property?  You can serve the occupant a thirty (30) day notice to vacate, because under the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act they are considered a tenant, but because the didn’t sign the lease they would only be a month to month tenant.  If you can prove the relative occupant is engaged in some type of criminal activity, you could evict the occupant for that.  You do not have to evict the leaseholder, as you can always pick and choose who you wish to evict.

The landlord wanted to have access to the property for an appraisal and an inspection, and the tenant’s ignore the landlord’s request.  Proper notice has been served, but the tenant’s have changed the locks and will not respond when the landlord attempts to enter.  As long as your two (2) day notice of entry is served properly, and lets the tenant know if they do not let you in, it can be ground for a termination of their lease and an eviction, you would then document your efforts to get into the property and file the eviction against your tenant.

The tenant was sent a ten (10) day non-compliance notice to have their apartment ready so that it could be treated for bed bugs.  The tenant did not prep the apartment.  Can we charge them for the treatment as well as the service trip by our vendor?  The answer is yes, and/or you could serve the tenant a second ten (10) day non-compliance notice to vacate for a continuing violation.

The tenant’s broke their lease early because the husband got a job in another state.  The parties agreed that they would be let out of their lease by paying two (2) months of the nine (9) months remaining.  The landlord was able to get it re-rented shortly there after.  The question was whether they had to refund any money to the tenants.  The answer is no, you reached an agreement, both sides knowing the risk that it might take a substantial amount of time to re-lease the property.  Therefore, the agreement should stand up.

How should we word our lease so that when we give our tenant a rental concession we can charge that back if they default.  A lease should simply state that the tenant has received a rental concession and if they do not fulfill the terms of the lease agreement, they agree to return the concession in full to the landlord.

Finally, the last question involved what a landlord should do when they observe, smell, et cetera marijuana or illegal drug use in a rental home or apartment.  You should document that with the person who smelled it, as well as try to send additional people to verify the smell.  We have had a number of cases where it is one person’s word against another’s, as to whether or not there was illegal drug use, and the Judges are unpredictable in who they will believe.  Therefore, the more witnesses and documentation you have, the better.