Tenant's Rights After Landlord Retaliation in Arizona

Protecting tenants after a landlord retaliates

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Tenants are offered certain protections under Arizona’s landlord-tenant act. There may be times when a landlord is unhappy with the actions a tenant has taken, even if these actions are within a tenant’s legal right. In these cases, a landlord may try to retaliate against the tenant in an effort to get the tenant to move. Here are a tenant’s rights in Arizona after landlord retaliation.

Reasons a Landlord May Try to Retaliate

A tenant has a right to exercise certain legal rights. Even though the tenant may legally be allowed to do so, it does not mean the landlord is happy about the action. Here are four examples of tenant’s actions that may cause a landlord to retaliate:

  1. The tenant complains to a government agency about possible health and safety violations at the property.
  2. The tenant complains to the landlord about possible health and safety violations at the property.
  3. The tenant joins or organizes a tenants’ union.
  4. The tenant complains to a government agency regarding the wage-price stabilization act.

Recency of Tenant Action

In order for the tenant to claim an act of retaliation, the tenant’s action must have taken place no more than six months’ prior to the landlord’s supposed retaliatory act. The tenant must also provide evidence that they took such an action. This evidence must include the date on which the action took place.

Presumption of Retaliation

If the tenant has evidence of an action they have taken within six months, certain acts by the landlord will be presumed to be acts of retaliation. The exception to this rule would be if the tenant took the action after being served notice of lease termination by the landlord. In this case, the landlord’s action would not be considered an act of retaliation. Rather, the tenant’s action could be considered an act of retaliation due to being served the notice of termination.

Types of Landlord Retaliation

There are many ways a landlord can retaliate against a tenant after a tenant has performed an action a landlord does not approve of. Common types of landlord retaliation include:

  • Increasing a Tenant’s Rent
  • Decreasing or Cutting off Necessary Services to the Tenant
  • Decreasing or Cutting off Necessary Utilities to the Tenant
  • Failing to Make Needed Repairs
  • Failing to Perform Necessary Maintenance
  • Physically Moving a Tenant’s Possessions out of the Property
  • Filing for an Eviction- Commonly Known as a Retaliatory Eviction

Landlord's Right to Evict

A landlord still has a legal right to evict a tenant if the tenant has done any of the following. In these cases, the landlord’s action would not be considered an act of retaliation.

1. “Lack of reasonable care” by the tenant, a member of the tenant’s household or a guest of the tenant caused the housing or building violation.

2. The tenant owes rent. The landlord, however, may still be liable for paying damages to the tenant.

Tenant’s Right After Landlord Retaliation

If a landlord has performed a retaliatory action against a tenant, a tenant has legal rights. The tenant can do one of two things:

  1. Recover Possession of the Rental Unit
  2. Damages

The tenant may be entitled to two times the actual damages or two times the monthly rent, whichever is greater. If the tenant elects to have the lease terminated, the tenant is still entitled to the return of their security deposit. The landlord is still allowed to make lawful deductions from the security deposit, including for damage in excess of normal wear and tear the tenant has caused to the unit and for unpaid rent.

Arizona's Statutes on Landlord Retaliation

For the complete text of the law governing landlord retaliation in Arizona, please consult Arizona Revised Statutes 33-1367 and 33-1381.