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I have a tenant whose lease ends at the end of June, a year ago I said after the year we could go month to month. It was verbal. Now due to other issues I need him to leave at end of lease(June) what do I have to do to let him know?

Response by Carlton C. Casler: Without seeing your lease, it is hard for me to give you a definitive answer. Nevertheless, generally, when a fixed term lease expires and if the tenant continues to occupy the property and pay rent and the landlord accepts the rent, then tenancy converts to a month-to-month tenancy. In that case, you would need to give at least a 30 day notice of your intent to terminate tenancy. If your lease states that some type of notice must be given before the end of the fixed term lease regarding termination or renewal, then that language controls and you should send out the notice to the tenant as required by the lease. If the lease has a specific start date and end date (i.e., June 30, 2013) AND the lease does not require notice from either party regarding termination, renewal or extending tenancy, then tenancy terminates automatically on the end date (i.e., June 30, 2013) and no notice is required. In that case, you may send a "reminder" to the tenant at any time that tenancy ends on the end date and that you don't wish to extend or renew tenancy. Alternatively, you could wait until July 1, 2013 and send a 5-day demand for possession, but I recommend the reminder.

With a commercial rental can the landlord require a key to allow access to the leased building? Specifically this is involves a Doctors office and there is concern about patient record security and HIPAA if the landlord enters the building when the office is closed. Thank you for you time helping us.

Response by Carlton C. Casler. Yes, a commercial landlord may demand a key to the property. Several people may have a key to the property (i.e., janitorial staff, security personnel, etc.). Your client/patient records may (and should) be "secured" inside the building (i.e., in locked cabinets, locked room, etc.).

Can a landlord demand rent to be paid before it is due? I have never missed a payment and have always paid a few days early. Rent is due on the first of the month and now my landlord is demanding rent to be paid and it is only the 21st of the month.

Response by Carlton C. Casler: No.

Thank you, I have recently been looking for information about this subject matter for ages and yours is the best I have found so far.

In my lease with my tenant, the rent is due on the 15th of the month. If they pay rent within 6 days, there is no late fee, but after that, a late fee of 100 dollars is assessed. Typically, I've let this slide and accepted rent late without evicting her. However, the tenant is now refusing me entry to the property to inspect after a domestic violence charge occurred. After the tenant told me they were not paying on time this month, I posted the 5 Day Pay or Quit Notice on the front door (along with the 10 Day Non Compliance Notice for not letting me in the property), sent via certified mail, and emailed to the tenant. My question is whether or not an eviction will hold up in court based on the fact that I've let them pay late previously and this time, I've decided to crack down.
Response by Carlton C. Casler: Maybe. Some judges may find that you have “waived” the right to charge a late fee because you have not charged a late fee in the past when you could have charged a late fee. Another judge may feel differently. The best solution when you find yourself in this situation (i.e., that you have failed to enforce a right that is in your written lease) is to send a written notice “reinstating the time is of the essence provision” in the lease (or reinstating whatever right you may have previously waived) and state clearly in the notice that, from today and in the future, you will be assessing and collecting late fees.

I own a condominium, and have a renter in it. The renter is on a verbal agreement. Besides the amount of rent due monthly, there are no other terms to the agreement. If I want to get the renter out, because I want to move into the condo myself, what do I have to do?

Response by Carlton C. Casler: A verbal month-to-month tenancy can be terminated by either party with AT LEAST thirty days advance written notice. (See ARS Sec. 33-1375). Tenancy then terminates at the end of the next "periodic period," which you stated was a month. For example, if today is June 15 and you want to terminate a month-to-month tenancy, then you must serve a written thirty day notice on or before June 30. Tenancy will then end on July 31. If you serve the notice on June 15, June 30 or any day in between, tenancy still ends on July 31 -- at the end of the "periodic period," which is one month in a month-to-month tenancy.

Hi- I am a tenant and had a couple of questions I am requesting answers. #1. The lease states washer and dryer provided. Nov and Dec 2011 I was several days late with rent due to unforeseen job lay-off (Nov 5 days late & Dec 8 days late). Always had been on time with rent until circumstances tripped me up those 2 months. Dryer stopped working in Nov 2011 and I notified landlord several times each month several times each month to current date. She will not fix it or replace it due to late fees ($650 total) incurred Nov & Dec 2011 are not completely paid. I am paying an extra $100 a month until late fees are paid in full I have 2 adult children with mental and physical disabilities which require at least 1-2 loads of laundry each day. I hang them around the house to dry. WHAT ARE HER RESPONSIBILITIES IN REGARDS TO A CLOTHES DRYER? #2 Is my lease considered broken, since I was late in paying my rent Nov/Dec2011, justifying the landlord in keeping my deposit(s) totaling $1660? (rent/house deposit $1000, pet deposit $250, cleaning deposit $250, house key deposit $50, mailbox key deposit $35, pool key deposit $75) THANK YOU!

Response by Carlton C. Casler. Much depends on how your rental agreement is written and the specific language addressing the clothes washer and dryer. For purposes of this response, I am assuming that the rental agreement clearly states that the clothes washer and dryer are included as personal property under the lease and that the lease does not include language that eliminates or reduces the landlord’s responsibility regarding defective personal property. The landlord cannot refused to make repairs on the basis that the rent is late or unpaid: “ A rental agreement ... may not permit the receipt of rent free of the obligation to comply with section 33-
1324, subsection A.” (A.R.S. Section 33-1316). This language is unequivocal – the landlord must make repairs required by the Landlord/Tenant Act and your lease even if rent is late/unpaid. Send the landlord a letter requesting repairs to the washer and dryer. Send it via regular and certified mail. Only the latter is effective service under the Act, but regular mail will reach the landlord sooner, thereby giving the landlord an opportunity to cure the problem sooner than later. As for your second question, paying rent late is a breach of the lease, but if you pay late fees and the delinquent rent, then your lease is reinstated and the breach is remedied. The landlord cannot refuse to return your security deposit because you paid the rent late during the lease term because this would either be a “penalty” or an “additional late fee,” neither of which are permitted under the Act.

I have a tenant that is 6 months into a 12 month lease. He is terminating the lease 6 months early. What portion if any of the security deposit can be retained by me due to the early termination?

Response by Carlton C. Casler. Deposits are not “automatically” forfeited. You must provide an itemized statement of all deductions taken from the tenant’s deposits. (See ARS Sec. 33-1321). At present, he owes you for six months rent. Calculate the amount for six months, offset it by the amount of the deposits (which by law cannot exceed 1.5 months rent, so the tenant will still owe you some amount) and send the itemized statement to the tenant via certified mail (not legally required, but constitutes proof that you timely sent the itemized statement) to his last known address, which may be the rental unit. You should also include on the itemized statement any other amounts the tenant owes you (i.e., cleaning, damage, etc.). If the tenant turned in a change of address, it will be forwarded; if the tenant did not turn in a change of address, it will be returned to you (hold onto it), but you will have done all that is legally required. If you rent the property before the end of the six month period remaining on the tenant’s 12-month lease, then do an amended itemized statement of deductions, adjust the figures accordingly, and mail it off as stated above.

My tenant gave a 30 day notice to vacate, effective June 1, but also said she may need more time to move after that 30 days asking that I prorate June rent.I asked her to prepay June rent by May 20 and for a 10 day notice of her moveout date, and, I would prorate the June rent. I heard nothing back from her. June 1st came around and I did not receive a rent payment, so, I sent a 5 day notice to pay or quit on June 2. I drove past the rental and it appeared she was gone. I checked the outside water and it has been turned off. I do not have possession of keys, etc. In this case, is she responsible for June rent, which her security deposit would cover? Also, would I need to advise her of a final walk-thru date of the rental property?

Response by Carlton C. Casler. I am assuming that she was a month-to-month tenant, but even if that is true, most month-to-month tenancies go from the first of the month to the end of the month. If that is the case for your rental agreement, then she would owe for all of June even if she vacated on June 1. If the tenant gave proper notice and was to vacate on May 31 or June 1 (as in your case), and the tenant does not vacate by that date, then the tenant is a “holdover tenant” and the landlord is entitled to holdover damages equal to two months rent. (See ARS Sec. 33-1375). Without regard to the foregoing, until the tenant gives you the keys (see ARS Sec. 33-1310(3)), the tenant has possession and, therefore, she owes rent for June. As for the inspection, if the tenant requested to be notified of the move-out inspection (see ARS Sec. 33-1321(C)), then you must provide the tenant with notice of the date/time of the move-out inspection. If the tenant did not request to be notified, then you need not provide the tenant with notice of the move-out inspection. As for the refundable deposits, in all cases (i.e., every time, for every tenant, regardless of the individual facts), the landlord must either: (1) refund all of the refundable deposits or (2) provide the tenant with an itemized list of items the landlord is deducting from the tenant’s refundable deposits and a check for the balance (if there is a balance due to the tenant). Go to my law office web site (www.CaslerLawOffice.com/freeresources.html) for a FREE form for that purpose.

AZ Tenant requested a repair for the garage door. While at the property it became evident that there were unauthorized dogs, clearly a violation of our no pet policy. A verbal discussion ensued where Tenant was informed to remove the pets. The next day he calls me by phone to inform me that the pets are gone at which time I verbally requested to inspect the premises at a reasonable time that would be convenient for him. He has informed me in writing that he is aware of my request for inspection but he will not allow me entry for inspection or needed repairs. Pets have also done some damage to the back yard fence which I want to fix myself. Given that his letter confirms his awareness of my request for entry, am I still required to send 48 hours notice for entry to the tenant, then wait for him to refuse access again before I take further action? If he refuses again, can I just enter on my own at that point, maybe with request of officer assistance in case things get ugly? It seems lawful that I should be able to enter my property when a breach of contract has knowingly & admittedly occurred. I should add that I have never abused my access rights as this is my 1st time requesting entry (didn't even enter the home when the garage door was being serviced and dogs were discovered when heard barking inside.) My tenant is aware that this request is for repair/maintenance purposes in addition to inspection. The lease provides for access at reasonable times for inspection, repair, etc. Please advise on how to proceed lawfully. Thank you. Response by Carlton C. Casler: The landlord has the right to inspect the rental property. See ARS 33-1343. If the landlord gives the tenant two days advance notice, the tenant must allow the landlord to inspect. If the tenant does not permit the landlord to enter, the landlord CANNOT simply go in over the tenant's objection. But the tenant has breached the lease and the LL/T Act. In your case, you have a written document from your tenant that confirms the tenant received your request and that the tenant is refusing access. Some judgments, however, require that the landlord's notice be written, which was not done in your case. The tenant has committed a "material noncompliance" with both the lease and the LL/T Act and, therefore, you may serve the tenant with a "10-Day Notice of Material Noncompliance." You have two choices: (1) serve the 10-Day Notice now or (2) repeat the notice to inspect, but do it in writing and then serve the 10-Day Notice if the tenant continues to refuse access. The latter will avoid the risk of a judge ruling against you because your notice to inspect was not written. Note: The statute does not require "written" notice, merely "notice," which should include oral or written notice, but some judges insist that all notices be in writing. If, on your inspection, you see evidence of pets (i.e., food, water, dog house, etc.), then also add "unauthorized pets" to the 10-Day Notice. Good luck.

Can a landlord take a deficiency judgment against a residential tenant for the difference in rent upon re-rental after the tenant breaks the lease by early termination? Can a tenant be excused from liability for early termination - if so, under what conditions?

Anwer by Carlton Casler: A "deficiency judgment" is what a lender may obtain against a borrower on a mortgage or deed of trust if the collateral (i.e., the house) is sold at the foreclosure auction for less than the amount owed to the lender. What you are really asking is, "Can a landlord sue and obtain a judgment against the tenant if the tenant moves out before the end of the lease term?" Yes. If the tenant moves, vacates, abandons, etc., the rental property before the lease term ends, then the landlord may sue the tenant for: (1) the rent for the rest of the lease term, (2) any other amounts owed by the tenant to the landlord (i.e., late fees, property damage, etc.), and (3) the costs incurred by the landlord to re-rent the rental property (i.e., advertising, commisisons, etc.). The landlord must reduce that amount by any rent collected from a replacement tenant before the end of the lease term. The foregoing presumes that the landlord immediately takes "reasonable" steps to re-rent the rental property and the tenant had no legal basis for terminating the lease before the end of the lease term.

I deducted $550 from a tenant's security deposit for painting. Actual expense was $750.00. I charged for painting since tenant had been in house for a year and three months and she had burned candles in the master bedrm and living room causing soot damage to ceilings. She is now indicating I had no right to deduct this expense as Arizona law does not allow this deduction. Her deposit was $1300 and I refunded $750.00. Candle was also melted on carpet but I did not charge for this expense nor did I charge for paiting any other rooms which was "normal wear and tear". Please advise.

Answer by Carlton Casler: "Normal wear and tear," which cannot be charged to the tenant, is sometimes very hard to define. Dirt, soot, melted wax and/or other damage probably exceeds "normal wear and tear" and, therefore, may be charged to the tenant. Paint and carpet have an expected economic life (i.e., how long they are expected to last). The length of that economic life is determined by the quality of the materials (i.e., "top of the line" versus the cheapest material) and the amount of use (i.e., "normal wear and tear" is different for one tenant than for a family of six). In your case, I would want to know the economic life of the paint in your rental unit and the date that it was last painted. If the paint was at (or very near) the end of its economic life, then deductions for repainting may not be warranted. On the other hand, if it was painted just before this tenant moved in, then her use of the rental unit exceeded "normal wear and tear." In that case, deducting $550 for paint when the actual cost was $750 appears to be reasonable. As for the tenant saying that Arizona law does not allow a landlord to make these kinds of damages, she is incorrect.

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