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I'm a landlord, I smell some thing that is either dog or garbage, I did notice that the garage was half full of garbage bags about 2 weeks ago, i also noticed that there is no more trash can outside. These people have been there for about 2 months. they also have 3 big dogs and a couple of farets. I need to get in there and find out what smells. How can i do this legal (in AZ. pinal county) I'm afraid that the tennets have let the dogs use the apt as a bathroom.

Response by Carlton C. Casler
Inspect the property. The Act permits the landlord to inspect the rental property after giving the tenant two days advance notice. Go here: for the form: http://www.caslerlawoffice.com/12%20-%20Multiple%20Purpose%20Notice%20Form.pdf

The house I rent in a nice neighborhood was broken into, and I was robbed. The sliding glass door was damaged, which made the house and me (a female) vulnerable. A police report was filed. The Landlord refuses to repair the damage, and my house was broken into again via the damaged door. The Landlord expects me to pay for the damage. What is the law regarding this?

Response by Carlton C. Casler. The LL/T Act states: "The landlord shall: ... (2) Make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put
and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition." (See A.R.S. Sec. 33-1324). The LL/T Act also states: "The Tenant shall: ... (6) Not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair or remove any part of the premises or knowingly permit any person to do so." (See A.R.S. Sec. 33-1341). If the door was damaged by the tenant's intentional or negligent conduct or the tenant permitted someone else to damage the rental property, then the tenant is financially responsible for the damage. Otherwise, the landlord is financially responsible for the damage. In either case, however, the statute is clear that the landlord must "make and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition," which means the landlord must repair the damage but may be able to recover the cost of repairs from the tenant. But there is more -- the landlord can transfer that responsibility to the tenant of a single-family home or to the tenant of an apartment. (See A.R.S. Sections 33-1324(C) and 33-1324(D)). Read your lease to see if that responsibility is transferred to the tenant. In either case, the landlord must fix the damage, but may or may not be able to recover the cost of repairs from the tenant.

I leased a house to a tenant in Arizona and after 4 months the tenant went missing. I have sent notices registered mail and they have not picked them up. The phone number I dial says the tenant is unreacheable. I have been to the house twice in the last 2 weeks and have had no luck catching them. I've even had the neighbor keep a watch out for them. They seem to have abandoned the home. Last contact with them was on the 1st of February. Now 22 days later sill no communication. Unfortunately, their belongings are still in the home. When can I take over my home?

Response by Carlton C. Casler: You must post (on the front door or other conspicuous place) and mail (via certified mail, return receipt requested) a Notice of Abandonment. After the five business days have passed, then you may enter the rental property. Proceed as described on ARS Sec. 33-1370. You can get a Notice of Abandonment form here: http://www.caslerlawoffice.com/freeresources.html

Thank you very much, these are really handy

I rented an apartment on a 13 month lease. I lost my job and had to move. I meet with the Assistant Manager and her and I worked out an agreement that I would only have to pay from August 1st until the apartment was re rented. I vacated the property on 7/31. On 8/6 I followed up in an email and she responded back that "you are all set, the apartment was rented, you don't have a balance due." On Oct. 3rd, I recieved a letter from a collection agency saying that I owe $4,600.00. I had an agreeemnt in writing. Can they do this and what can I do to stop them before they damage my credit.

Response by Carlton C. Casler: Your agreement was in writing; you should have no problem. Sometimes, in large apartment complexes, the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. Respond in writing to the collection agent. Enclose a copy of your written agreement with the apartment manager. That should solve the problem. If you do have to go to court, it should be a very short trial, as long as the written agreement states the terms of your agreement.

We are lving in AZ from out of country and have 7 months left on our lease. We now have to return to our own country for work. We advised the landlord that we would find a replacement tenant to sublet so as not to loose our damage deposit and pet deposit. She is not replying to our emails consistently and is often rude with her responses. We suggested she could likely rent the house for more money, but she did not indicate this was what she wanted. Now that we have found a replacement tenant she wants to change the terms of the lease for the sublet tenant. This doesnt seem fair, as we did not advertise the house this way, so we could loose the tenant. We are also concerned that once we are gone she will not give back our deposits. There was no detailed inspection of the house done and the carpets and most items in the house (furnished) were in poor condition. We are worried she will blame us in order to keep the money, as we will not be in the country to collect it back, but will have to rely on her sending it. We were planning to leave mid month and hoped the deposit could go against that months rent, now we wonder if we should just not pay the rent and leave, going on the assumption she wont issue a refund anyways.

Response by Carlton C. Casler: First, write down detailed notes about your substitute tenant (i.e., name of substitute tenant, phone number, etc.) and the terms that the landlord wanted to change. Second, before you vacate, send a notice to the landlord asking to be notified of the move-out inspection. Third, leave the rental property clean and undamaged. Fourth, after you have removed all your personal property, take video and pictures (i.e., every wall of every room, carpet, appliances, etc.) to demonstrate the condition of the rental when you vacated. You may also want to have a witness see the property as you leave the rental property for the last time. Fifth, on the day after you vacate make a written demand for return of all your refundable deposits; send this via certified mail, return receipt requested. If you don't get your refund within fourteen business days, contact me again.

My tenants have just moved out and as I was inspecting the property, I noticed a big pet urine stain on the carpet in the bedroom. They are not claiming responsibility and said that the stain came up after they had a professional cleaner clean the carpet. They said that it is from a previous renter whom they knew had a pet. I personally do not think that this is possible as the stain and the strong, unbearable odor was not present prior to them moving in. How do I approach this situation and what recourse do I have? I collected a refundable $1000 security deposit and a refundable $300 cleaning deposit. No pet deposit. Thank you for any advice you can provide.

Response by Carlton C. Casler. First, read the blog post entitled: "Landlord Should Collect Only One Deposit -- the Security Deposit." Second, the security deposit can be used to cover ANY amounts owed by the tenants (i.e., rent, property damage, cleaning, etc.). You can deduct the carpet cleaning or replacment (if necessary) expense from either the security deposit or from the cleaning deposit. In your case, you should deduct the carpet cleaning (or replacement) expense from the cleaning deposit first and then, if the expense is more than $300, deduct the rest from the security deposit. Now the hard part: do you charge the tenants or not? Make no mistake, this is not about "who is right and who is wrong," this is about what you can prove at trial. If the prior tenant had a pet, then your tenant's argument that the stain is from the prior tenant's pet is credible. On the other hand, if you and/or several witnesses were in the rental unit after the prior tenants vacated and before the current tenants took possession, AND you and/or those witnesses will testify that there was no stain or smell when they were inside the unit, then your argument is credible. Any other evidence that supports your argument is good and any other evidence that supports your current tenants' argument is bad. Add up the evidence and then make your decision. Again, it is not about what "actually happened," it is about what you can prove at trial. Good luck.

Assuming a commercial lease is silent as to assignment, does Arizona law require the landlord to use reasonable discretion in approving or denying assignment of the lease?

Response by Carlton C. Casler: A lease (commercial or otherwise) may be assigned and/or the property sublet WITHOUT any approval by the landlord, UNLESS the lease restricts assignment and/or subletting. Almost all commercial leases expressly provide that the lease cannot be assigned and/or the all or part of the premises be sublet unless the landlord has given the tenant written permission. The restriction in the lease may also contain criteria that the landlord will apply when evaluating an assignment of sublet. If no criteria is given, then the landlord cannot "unreasonably" without consent.

We rented a home from a lady and just found out she does not own the home but her mother does. Should we be paying the rent to her mother or to her since she signed the lease? We found this out when the mortgage company came over, as the mortgage was not being paid. When we asked for documentation of who owned the home she told us it was none of our business. What should we do?

Response by Carlton C. Casler. For now, pay rent to the person with whom you signed the lease. Look up the owner of the property via the county assessor's records or the county recorder. Contact the owner to verify that the person who signed the lease on the owner's behalf was authorized to do so. If so, continue paying rent. If not, you may wish to contact the county attorney's office, because entering into a lease on behalf of an owner of real property without that owner's authorization is fraudulent conduct (both the property owner AND the tenant have been defrauded). As for the repair issues, look at ARS 33-1324 and 33-1361, and then send the landlord a written notice of material noncompliance. Keep in mind, however, that not every property defect is a "material noncompliance " (i.e., a small hole in the wall, a defective ceiling fan, etc.) and you, as the tenant, can only terminate the rental agreement or have it fixed and deduct the cost thereof from the rent if the problem is a "material noncompliance."

Hi, I have an agreement that states the tenant is responsible for repairing appliances and lists fridge, stove, and washer/dryer. However, there is no adequate consideration along with it, plus it's not in a separate agreement apart from the lease. The fridge is dead after 2 years, and they refuse to repair it. Liability isn't even mentioned should I get injured fixing the stove. I want to give them the 10-day repair notice. Do I have a leg to stand on? (So to speak). Thanks, Zack.

Response by Carlton C. Casler: The Act allows the landlord to transfer this responsibility to the tenant. See A.R.S. Sec. 33-1324. Specifically, for a single family home, the Act allows the landlord to transfer this responsibility in the rental agreement. See A.R.S. Sec. 33-1324(C). For an apartment, the Act allows the landlord to transfer this responsibility to the tenant, but it must be in a written agreement separate from the rental agreement and supported by consideration. See A.R.S. Sec. 33-1324(D). Some other limitations apply for apartments. See A.R.S. Sec. 33-1324(D). Whether or not you, as the tenant, must pay to repair or replace the refrigerator will depend on the specific language of your written rental agreement. The only way to know for sure is to have a lawyer look at your written rental agreement.

As for liability if you get injured trying to repair the refrigerator, the landlord cannot include language that limits their liability for tenant injuries, see A.R.S. Sec. 33-1315(A)(3), but the landlord can (and probably did) include language in the rental agreement that prohibits you from doing and repairs or maintenance without the landlord's prior written approval. Unless you are a refrigerator repairman, it is unlikely that the landlord will permit you to do the repairs.

My husband's job is transfering us out of state. We have no choice in the matter but to go for the sake of his job. Is there a federal or state law that protects us or allows us to break our lease given the circumstances? We have 6 months left in our two year lease. We are paying a few hundred over market value right now and know that he will not rerent it for what we are paying right now. Please advise...

Response by Carlton C. Casler: No, there is no state or federal law that allows you to cancel a lease because of a job transfer. Such a right could be written into the lease, but that rarely happens. Read your lease again to see if there is a "buy out" provision or a "liquidated damages" provision. You may be able to pay a fee and terminate the lease early. If that is not an option, then contact the landlord and see if he will allow you to pay some amount in exchange for termination of the lease. If he does not agree (and the law does not require him to agree), then you are responsible for rent until the end of the lease term. If you move out, leave it clean and deliver the keys to the landlord, then the landlord must take "reasonable steps" to re-rent the property. If he takes "no steps," then he has failed to mitigate his damages, which he must do under the law and his failure to mitigate his damages may be a defense to his claim against you, if he files a lawsuit against you to recover due and unpaid rent.

I own a Vacation rental. My tenant signed a 3 month lease agreement for my rental property. A month and 1/2 into the agreement, her work contract came to an end and she wanted to leave. She just called me and said she was moving back home (out of the state). I told her that she signed a contract and she had to pay July and Aug Rent. I told her I would do my best to get the place re-rented and hopefully be able to prorate her rent.

I did get it rented. I did Charge her $80.00 service fee to get the place rented again. She is being really rude to me and saying I am being unfair for charging that $80.00 fee. Her emailing are starting to get really mean.

Here is my question: I was thinking about canceling the check I sent out. I did get the place rented. Do I have to pay her back for the rent? I owe her 10 days worth of rent. $430.00. I was been kind but now she is getting really nasty with me.

Look forward to hearing back from you!

Response from Carlton C. Casler: The tenant signed a binding contract; she is financially responsible for all the rent until the end of the lease term. If a tenant notifies you that the tenant will be breaching the lease (as in your case), then the landlord has a duty to mitigate damages, which means that you must take "reasonable steps" to re-rent the property. The tenant must pay: all the rent due under the contract, plus any fees/expenses you incur to re-rent the rental unit (including ads, commissions, etc.), MINUS any rent you collect from a replacement tenant (i.e., any rent paid by the new tenant for any portion of the rental contract for the former tenant). As applied to your case, provided the $80 fee was incurred to re-rent the rental unit, then you are entitled to collect that fee from the tenant. You MUST, however, provide the tenant with an "itemized statement of deductions" from the tenant's refundable deposits. Also, you wouldn't be having this problem if your rental agreement addressed this specific issue; you may want to have your rental agreement reviewed or replaced.

Prior to taking possession of a commercial premises, is a landlord required to provide a default notice pursuant to a commercial lease in the event a tenant fails to pay rent?

Answer by Carlton Casler: Nothing in the statutes requires a commercial landlord to serve a notice before taking possession (i.e., locking the tenant out) if the tenant is more than five days late paying the rent. The only place a "requirement" would be found is in the written commercial lease. If the lease does not require notice, then no notice is required.

I just moved into an apt last weekend they had 2 months to fix things and they were not done, now my refrigerator is leaking water inside and the fan freezer is going on and off, i told them when i moved in that the fan stopped, then it started going again, what can I do since they had 2 months to fix things and they are not done.

Response by Carlton C. Casler. Start by downloading the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act from this site. Look at Sections 33-1324, and 33-1361 to 33-1367. Depending on the nature of the problem, the tenant may have repairs done and deduct the cost from the next month's rent (see ARS Section 33-1363) or terminate the lease and move (see ARS Section 33-1361), BUT you must ensure that you serve the proper WRITTEN notice and give the landlord time to cure (as specified in the statute). If you terminate and move, you can also sue the landlord for your moving expenses.

I am a small business owner subleasing property to operate my business. My leasor recently told me to fire one of my employees or he would not renew my lease. I have lost business and money secondary to not being allowed to have this employee in my business. The landlord also is degrading and aggressive and has told me several times to "shut up and listen" and that "[I] have no power" reagarding what happens on the aforementioned property. Do I have any recourse? Can I file a formal complaint with someone?

Answer by Carlton Casler: Conceiveably, both you and your employee have a claim for "tortious interference with a contract" against the lessor. Other than that, you are unfortunately at the mercy of the landlord. A commercial landlord can refuse to renew your lease for any reason or no reason. He can be a "jerk" and your only recourse is: (1) move your business or (2) tell him that you will no longer tolerate him speaking to you in that manner, in which case he will not renew your lease and you will then have to move your business.

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