Arizona Residential Landlord Tenant Act offers room for abuse

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There’s a lot of wiggle room in the the Arizona Residential Landlord Tenant Act, creating unfair disadvantages for tenants. 

Some property management companies regularly take advantage of the vagueness in the act’s “access” section that describes the law requiring tenants to give 48 hours notice to enter a tenant’s unit. 33-1343. Access  While landlords will give proper notice, they often don’t provide a specific date when they want to enter.  This defeats the spirit of the law, and leaves the tenant hanging, not knowing when their landlord is going to pop in.   

Arizona’s landlord tenant act is intended to protect the rights of landlords, as well as the rights of tenants. For example, tenants have the right to peaceful enjoyment in the space they rent. 

To ensure this peaceful enjoyment, the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant act requires landlords give 48 hours’ notice to enter when inspecting the rental unit or making repairs, etc. 

Here's the 48-hour access law

Here’s the exact verbiage of the “access” clause in the AZ Residential Landlord and Tenant Act: “Except in case of emergency or if it is impracticable to do so, the landlord shall give the tenant at least two days’ notice of the landlord’s intent to enter and enter only at reasonable times.”

The law is missing specific language

The reasonable way to interpret this is a landlord should give 48 hours notice in advance of the SPECIFIC day they intend to enter. Put another way, they should inform the tenant of the specific day they intend to enter at least 48 hours in advance.

But some Arizona property management companies dance around this law by giving two days notice to enter ANY TIME Monday – Friday for up to a week or longer. Clearly taking advantage of the loophole, the landlord often fails to inform the tenant of the specific day they intend to enter. They keep their options open by requiring that the tenant makes their unit available for inspection for a range of days, up to a week or more.  

Obviously, that kind of advance notice of an unspecified specific entry date wasn’t the intent of the law.

Technically, due to the loose wording of Arizona’s law, a landlord could legally give 48 hours notice to enter ANY TIME over the next year. Landlord tenant law doesn’t require that the landlord specify the specific day they intend to enter, only that the landlord gives 48 hours’ notice.

Landlords regularly give this kind of broad sweeping notice, presumably for their own convenience, despite it invading on the tenant’s right to peaceful enjoyment and creating great inconvenience to the tenant.

Landlords sometimes use intimidation tactics

In addition, some landlords intimidate tenants into cooperating by:

1) Threatening fines or lease violations if the landlord can’t get access during their FIRST attempt to enter and has to return. 

2) Unreasonably requiring tenants to lock up their pet in a bedroom or crate for up to five days or longer, if the tenant’s pet is left alone in the unit while the tenant is away or at work.

And issuing fines or lease violations is legal, per AZ law:

33-1376. Landlord and tenant remedies for abuse of access

A. If the tenant refuses to allow lawful access, the landlord may obtain injunctive relief to compel access, or terminate the rental agreement. In either case, the landlord may recover actual damages.

See the below real examples of landlord letters, which were clearly written with the intent of intimidating the tenant into submission.

Arizona should follow Seattle's lead

Arizona should adopt some of Washington and Seattle’s landlord tenant laws which are much more fair and progressive for both landlords and tenants.  For example, if a landlord enters a tenant’s unit without notice in Seattle, the tenant can fine the landlord $100 for each time they don’t give proper notice. In addition, the tenant has the right to inform the landlord that “it’s not convenient” * within reason * right up until the scheduled entry time. 

In Arizona, the tenant does not have the right to reschedule if they get ill or have a personal emergency, for example. Not only that, but the tenant is subject to fines and threats of fines if the the landlord is not able to enter on the first or subsequent attempts to enter. 

That is not reasonable.

Arizona’s residential landlord and tenant act’s own verbiage weakens the law even further, making the 48-hour rule pretty much a moot point: “Except in case of emergency or WHEN IMPRACTICAL TO DO SO,” the landlord must give 48 hours notice.

Any landlord can claim it was “impractical” to give 48 hours notice.

It’s time for Arizona to clean house and clean up their verbiage to protect a tenant’s right to peaceful enjoyment. The vagueness of the 48-hour access rule begs for abuse by landlords and is not reasonable.

Real Example #1 from AZ apartment complex property manager

Real Example #2 from AZ apartment complex property manager

Karen Skeens

Karen Skeens

Karen is a creative director / writer / designer / strategist with 20 years of passionate dedication in digital agency and broadcast media work helping companies of all sizes grow.

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