Under Arizona landlord-tenant law, A legally binding lease agreement 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 in Arizona, there are a few legally acceptable reasons that can allow a tenant to break their lease early without penalty.
So, we at Keyrenter Premier have put together the following article so you can learn about how and why a tenant could break their lease.
When can a Tenant Break their Lease without Penalty?
Arizona laws outline a handful of scenarios where a tenant can legally break their lease without penalty. They are as follows:
If you have an early termination clause in your lease, then your tenant can use it to terminate the lease early as long as they meet the stipulated conditions.
Generally speaking, early termination clauses prescribe two conditions that tenants must meet before breaking their lease. One of the conditions 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 protects any tenant against penalties for breaking a lease agreement should they be called to active military duty.
In Arizona, Servicemembers are regarded as those who belong to the following branches of the 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 break their lease, the relief act requires the following.
- To provide the landlord with proof that they signed the lease agreement before starting active military duty.
- To show proof that they intend to remain on military duty for 90 or more days.
When delivering the notice, the tenant must accompany these notices 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 begins.
Violation of Habitability Standards
Tenants in Arizona can also break their lease if their rental unit fails to meet the legally required habitability standards. Just like most other states, Arizona requires rental properties to meet certain minimum health and safety codes. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 33-1324).
The following are some conditions that make a unit habitable in the state of Arizona.
- 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.
Landlords cannot use aggressive methods to force a tenant to break their lease agreement. Such 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.
- 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.
- Failing to provide the tenant with proper notice.
- Refusing to accept a rent payment as a means to intimidate the tenant.
- Falsifying charges in order to evict the tenant from your property.
- Sexually harassing the tenant.
- Making verbal or physical threats of injury to the tenant.
Violation of Tenant’s Privacy.
As a landlord in Arizona, you’re required to provide your tenant notice at least 2 days prior to entering their rented unit. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 33-1343(D)). If you repeatedly enter the property without consent, then your tenant can break their lease.
Landlords should only enter their tenant’s property when asked or under the following conditions:
- To inspect the unit.
- Under a courts order.
- Responding to an emergency.
- Showing the unit to prospect lenders, buyers, or 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 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 steps to re-rent the unit after a tenant breaks their lease. (Arizona Code § 33-1370).
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 us at 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 or property management company.