February 2012

The first question we received was from a client who executed a lease agreement with an error in the monthly rental amount.  The person that prepared the lease typed in $7.00 per month as the lease amount, rather than $700.00.  The client was concerned that they might be held to that.  Generally in Arizona if there is a mistake, or the lease is ambiguous, it gets resolved in favor of the tenant and against the landlord, since the landlord wrote the lease.  In this particular situation, because the amount is obviously wrong and you can show that other units rent for the same amount, the landlord should be able to enforce the $700.00 amount on their tenant.

Another question regarded a tenant who had a knife allegedly pulled on them at the apartment community, and felt that was grounds to break the lease.  No one knew if the person that allegedly had the knife was a resident, a guest, a visitor or a trespasser.  There would be no grounds to break the lease because of a random act such as this.  

In another situation a tenant drove his vehicle into the building, causing a waterline to break.  The resident only had a permit and not an actual driver’s license.  Due to this negligence, the landlord should be able to proceed with an immediate eviction.

A landlord did a lockout on a tenant after an eviction and found what appeared to be stolen property in the apartment.  In that situation the landlord should call the police and make a police report.  If the police do not wish to pursue the matter, then the property would be disposed as any their property found in the apartment.

An apartment manager found a tenant did not have utilities on in their apartment and was stealing utilities from the laundry room using an extension cord.  This should be grounds for an immediate since it is theft of services.

A landlord served a five (5) day on his tenant, but then misplaced his copy of the notice.  His question was whether he needed to re-serve the five (5) day.  In my opinion no, you simply reconstruct a new five day as close to the original as possible and let the court know that this is a reconstruction based upon misplacing the previous five day.

A landlord sent a certified notice to a tenant, but the notice came back because the tenant had not obtained a mail box key to her mail box.  The question was whether the notice was properly served.  As the Landlord Tenant Act states, it is deemed received after five (5) days whether picked up or not, and due to the tenant’s negligence of not getting a key to their mail box, the landlord’s notice should be fine.

A manager wanted to know what kind of notice she could serve for an assistive animal.  Generally speaking, assistive animals could be served any violation notices, such as excessive barking, not being picked up after, being vicious, biting someone, and in any of those situations you would use your regular landlord/tenant notices.

A tenant allowed an unauthorized person to move into their apartment and then had problems and wanted the unauthorized person removed from the apartment.  The landlord could give the tenant a 10 day notice to remove the unauthorized occupant or potentially be evicted, or the tenant could try and evict the unauthorized occupant themselves. 

The landlord had a provision in the lease that if the tenant filed bankruptcy they could not include the landlord in it.  You can not do this.  This is an illegal provision because everyone has the right to file bankruptcy.  This should be removed from the lease agreement because if you are using an illegal lease provision the tenant has the right to a claim for two (2) months rent.  You would have to go through the same procedure of getting the bankruptcy courts approval in evicting the tenant after the case is removed from the bankruptcy court and back to the eviction court.

The owner had a property where the tenants had a dog and left the house at the end of the lease with a horrible urine pet smell.  The carpets needed to be replaced.  The carpets were new in 2005 when the tenants moved in.  The landlord was concerned about how much he could charge for new carpet.  This is one of those subjective matters.  You have to depreciate the carpet based upon the age and condition of the carpet at move in, it’s normal life expectancy, how long the tenants were there and the condition at move out, less normal wear and tear.  In this situation, if the carpet had a ten (10) year life expectancy, you could probably charge around 40% of the replacement cost.

Finally, the police let the apartment complex know that they had arrested one of their residents for felony DUI.  He had hit someone and that person was in critical condition.  The manager wanted to know if he could be evicted for this offense.  The answer is yes, he presents a danger to the property and to its occupants and therefore could be evicted