You’ve just caught a break and signed the rental lease for your beautiful, move-in ready apartment home at “Heavenly Gardens” which you’ve just found out overlooks both a landfill and cattle ranch, has cockroaches bigger than your cat and the brand new carpet was once new, when the landlord replaced it back in 1974. The 300 pound neighbor above you paces around at all hours of the night, primarily because he’s an on-call meth dealer, the bullet holes in the dining room were patched with the wrong color paint and right now someone is stealing your hub caps. And now, the landlord refuses to fix the hot water heater, leaky faucets, the broken window in your bedroom or turn on the electricity because somehow, all of this is your fault.
This isn’t the ideal living situation but even after you’ve tried to make the best of it, you realize it’s now time to make a change, get out of there and break your lease. Maybe your apartment is really nice but you got that big job offer you’ve been waiting for but it’s in Nevada. No matter what the reasons are, there are legal ways to break a lease but you may not know how. In order to get out of the lease early, and as quickly and easily as possible, you have to fit into one of three primary categories.
The law in Arizona is very specific. The landlord is responsible for complying with all applicable building codes materially affecting health and safety and is responsible for making all repairs to keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition. If a landlord fails to keep up his, or her, end of the bargain there is something you can do about it. When a landlord is properly notified about any of these non-compliance issues, a lease can legally be broken if the items are not remedied in ten days. Additionally, if the items not remedied materially affect your health and safety, the lease can be terminated in only five days if they are not remedied. The procedure for notification is very specific and we recommend you use a company who can properly assist you in the preparation and delivery of the necessary documents.
Second, all owners of residential property are required to maintain information with the county assessors office. Some of the items are simple, such as the name and address of the owner and address of the property. Some of the other items can get a little more detailed. Most residential property owners may not be aware of the necessary requirements and never create or maintain the proper records with the county assessors office. If the owner doesn’t comply, again with proper notice, the tenant can terminate the rental lease agreement within ten days and the landlord must return all prepaid rent and security deposit back to the tenant. This approach is also tricky and you need to use a company who has experience in non-registration issues to assist you.
Lastly, if circumstances beyond your control arise, such as fire, flood or other event occurs that substantially impairs the dwelling unit, the tenant has multiple options. If the property is still habitable, the tenant can have the rent reduced for the part of the property that has been damaged and is no longer habitable. If the property is inhabitable a tenant can legally terminate the rental lease agreement, but you have to do it quickly. The law gives your fourteen days to break that lease.
Whether you are the victim of fire or flood, have a landlord that isn’t properly registered with the county or you have significant health and safety violations you can quickly and legally break your lease. However, I do not recommend trying to do it on your own. The documents need to be specifically prepared and delivered in a timely manner. The company with a proven track record is ATA, Arizona Tenants Advocates, www.lease-breakers.com who have been successfully assisting tenants since 1993 and have over 5,000 successfully confirmed ‘break lease’ cases.