Modern lease agreements in Arizona are governed by Arizona landlord-tenant law. A legally binding lease in Arizona can last for however long the two parties agree upon. However, they usually last for six or twelve months. During this entire time, a tenant is required to pay rent regardless of whether they live there. So, breaking the lease doesn’t excuse your Arizona tenant from their rent obligations.
But there are exceptions to this rule regarding breaking a lease in Arizona, there are a few legally acceptable reasons that can allow a tenant to break their lease in Arizona early without penalty.
So as an experienced property management company, we at Keyrenter Premier have put together the following article so you can learn about how and why a tenant could break a lease early.
When can a Tenant Break their Lease without Penalty?
Renting out your home means understanding the laws. Arizona laws outline a handful of scenarios where a tenant can break a lease legally and without penalty. These reasons why a tenant legally breaks their lease in Arizona are as follows:
As per Arizona state law, if you have early lease termination clauses in your rental lease in Arizona, then your tenant can use them to terminate the lease early as long as they meet the stipulated conditions in the rental agreement or contractual agreement.
Generally speaking, early termination clauses prescribe two conditions that tenants must meet before breaking their lease. One of the conditions of the early termination clause is that the tenant must provide the landlord with proper notice. Landlords require it in order to plan the re-renting process.
The other condition is a penalty fee or amendment to the security deposit rules. This is normally equal to the rent of two months. The fee typically goes into the costs of re-advertising the unit and processing rental applications.
Active Military Service
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is a federal law that protects any tenant against penalties for breaking a lease should they be called to active duty and cause financial hardship.
In Arizona, Servicemembers are regarded as those who belong to the following branches of the active military:
- National Guard
- Armed Forces
- Commissioned corps of the Public Health Service
- Commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
For the tenant to be legally breaking a lease in their rental property, there are some lease termination notice requirements, such as the following.
- To provide the landlord with written notice that they signed the lease agreement or lease prior to starting active military duty.
- To show proof that they intend to remain on active military duty for 90, or more days of active duty.
When delivering the written notice requesting the end of the lease due to active duty, the tenant must accompany this written notice with letters from their commanding officer authorizing the deployment or permanent change of station.
Once all these requirements are met, the earliest the lease can terminate is 30 days after the next rent period. Then any future rent period begins as per the early termination clause in the act.
Violation of Habitability Standards
Tenants in Arizona can also legally break a lease if their rental unit fails to meet the legally required habitability standards or if the Arizona landlord breaks the Fair Housing Act. Just like most other states, Arizona requires rental properties to meet certain minimum health and safety codes set out in the landlord-tenant act. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 33-1324).
The following are some conditions that make a rental unit habitable in the state of Arizona that could result in a tenant breaking a lease or rental agreement – it is a landlord’s duty to maintain these conditions.
- Adequate trash receptacles
- Clean and sanitary grounds
- Properly functioning electrical and plumbing facilities
- Functioning gas facilities
- Effective weatherproofing and weather protection of exterior walls and roof
- A locking mailbox for each unit
- Working smoke and carbon dioxide detectors
- Operable deadbolt locks on main entry doors
- Natural lighting in every room through skylights and windows
- A working shower or shower, and toilet and washbasin
- Reasonable protection from criminal intrusion
- Sturdy floors and walls that aren’t in danger of imminent collapse
- Reliable heat
- Sufficient hot water
- A roof that keeps out rain and snow
If your property doesn’t meet these conditions and you fail to complete repairs after being notified by your tenant, the tenant would be considered “constructively evicted.” Consequently, they would no longer be liable for upholding their lease obligations and may choose to move out, therefore, breaking a lease.
Landlords cannot use aggressive methods to force a tenant to legally break their lease agreement. Such landlord harassment can come in many forms, including:
- Creating nuisances that are meant to disrupt your tenant’s peace and quiet enjoyment.
- Refusing to make requested repairs within a reasonable period of time leaving the tenant without a habitable rental property.
- Causing disruption to utility services that may affect the unit’s livability.
- Denying the tenant amenities that are promised in the lease agreement.
- Removing the tenant’s personal belongings from the unit.
- Changing locks unlawfully during the lease term.
- Failing to provide the tenant with proper notice.
- Refusing to accept a rent payment as a means to intimidate the tenant or denying all the rent was paid.
- Falsifying charges in order to evict the tenant from your property or deducting rent from a security deposit without due cause.
- The landlord violates the agreement by sexually harassing the new tenant.
- Making verbal or physical threats of injury to the tenant.
A tenant can use any of the above reasons to break a lease and claim landlord harassment.
Violation of Tenant’s Privacy.
As a landlord in Arizona, you’re required to provide your tenant with a 2-days notice to your tenants prior to entering their rented units (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 33-1343(D)) but you should give as as much notice as you can. If you repeatedly enter the property without consent, then your tenant can break their lease.
An Arizona landlord should only enter their tenant’s property when asked or under the following conditions:
- To inspect the unit.
- Under a court order.
- Responding to an emergency.
- Showing the unit to prospective lenders, buyers, or Arizona tenants.
Victims of Domestic Violence
In Arizona, victims of domestic violence have special rental provisions in the law. According to the law (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 33-1318(A)), a tenant may be able to terminate their lease within 30 days after providing proof of their domestic violence status.
Another law (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 33-1318(E)) requires that you change the locks of a domestic violence victim when requested. You can hold your tenant liable for the expense.
Do landlords have an obligation to find a replacement tenant in Arizona?
Arizona law requires that landlords “mitigate damages” after a tenant breaks a lease. This means that you must take reasonable efforts to re-rent the unit to a new tenant after the current tenant breaks their lease. (Arizona Code § 33-1370). So should a tenant break their lease due to a job relocation, for example, you can charge them the remaining rent.
As rent is one of the major sources of income for a landlord. It’s important for them to understand how and when a tenant could possibly break their lease and stop this particular income stream.
So, if you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact your Scottsdale property manager, Keyrenter Premier!
Disclaimer: This blog isn’t a substitute for professional legal advice. Also, laws change, and the information herein may not be updated at the time you read it. For expert legal advice, kindly get in touch with a legal professional, qualified attorney, or property management company.