The landlord-tenant relationship is filled with the potential to become a rocky one. This was particularly true before the various legal measures that have been adopted to forestall, ameliorate, or address this fact—and none of these measures have managed to do away with it entirely. One particularly contentious issue that can arise is in the case that a tenant on a property has done some form of damage to it—and especially if it appears this has been done purposely.
Arizona law requires landlords to furnish their tenants with a move-in inspection form at the very start of the tenancy. This form is meant to provide a tenant with the opportunity to create documentation of any property defects or damage already in place on the property. Of course, this is a very subjective measure, and new tenants may not have an eye for property damage in the same way that a landlord will. Therefore a landlord would be well advised to make their own documentations of the rental property’s condition prior to the tenancy—as a means of later proving damage or excess wear and tear. This should include a running list of defects—and also a video recording of the entire property prior to each tenancy, and photographs of existing defects. These sources can, in the situation that the relationship sours, stand as evidence in a trial for recovery of damages. A video recording should also be made the very first time a landlord enters the property after a tenant vacates—in order to make it clear that the landlord did not cause any damage—as should multiple photographs of any damage encountered.
If the landlord has done a sufficient job of documenting the pre- and post-damage condition of the property, they may seek damages at court; and they may also report the tenant to the authorities who, depending on the severity of the damage and convincing evidence that the damage was intentional, might prosecute under Arizona Revised Statutes section 33-322:
Removal or intentional and material alteration or damage of any part of a building, the furnishings thereof, or any permanent fixture, by or at the instance of the tenant, without written permission of the landlord or his agent, is a class 2 misdemeanor.
If a tenant has caused damage to your property—or if you are a tenant wrongly accused of damaging a property—in Phoenix or anywhere else in the state of Arizona, you’ll need an experienced attorney with strong scruples by your side to aid in rendering the proper outcome. At Provident Law, our real estate attorneys represent parties on either side of real estate and financing transactions, including landlords, tenants, buyers, sellers, lenders, borrowers, trustees, guarantors, shareholders, partners, and others. We structure, negotiate and document a variety of real estate and financing transactions, including leases, purchase and sale agreements, loans and development agreements for a variety of commercial and residential projects. Contact us if you’d like us to give you a hand.
Christopher J. Charles is the founder and Managing Partner of Provident Law ®. He is a State Bar Certified Real Estate Specialist and a former “Broker Hotline Attorney” for the Arizona Association of REALTORS ® (the “AAR”). Mr. Charles holds the AV ® Preeminent Rating by the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings system which connotes the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards. He serves as an Arbitrator and Mediator for the AAR regarding real estate disputes; and he served on the State Bar of Arizona’s Civil Jury Instructions Committee where he helped draft the Agency Instructions and the Residential Landlord/Tenant Eviction Jury Instructions.
Christopher is a licensed Real Estate Instructor and he teaches continuing education classes at the Arizona School of Real Estate and Business. He can be reached at Chris@ProvidentLawyers.comor at 480-388-3343.
ed at Chris@ProvidentLawyers.comor at 480-388-3343.