In Arizona, a tenant can terminate his/her lease early without penalty or require that the landlord change the locks to the home if the tenant is a victim of domestic violence that took place anywhere or a victim of sexual assault that took place in the rental unit.
Who is protected by these housing laws? What protections do they offer?
These laws protect you if you are a tenant in a rental unit and you are:
- a victim of domestic violence (as defined by law) that took place anywhere; or
- a victim of sexual assault (as defined by law) that took place within the rental unit.1
The protections offered are:
- you may be able to terminate your lease early without penalty if the domestic violence or sexual assault took place within the last 30 days (unless the landlord chooses not to enforce that 30-day requirement); or
- you may be able to require the landlord to change the locks on your home or apartment if you pay for the costs of the installation.2
1 A.R.S. § 33-1318(A)
2 A.R.S. § 33-1318(C), (E)
What steps must I take to terminate my lease early?
To terminate your lease, you must complete these two steps:
- provide the landlord written notice requesting termination of the rental agreement on a date that both you and your landlord agree upon, which must be within the next 30 days. You must provide this written notice within 30 days after the domestic violence or sexual assault happened (although the landlord can allow you to terminate your lease based on an incident that happened more than 30 days ago if the landlord chooses); and
- give your landlord one of the following:
- a copy of your protective order that must have been issued based on the domestic violence or sexual assault; or
- a copy of a police report (or other law enforcement report) that proves that you reported to law enforcement that you were a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault.1
In addition, if your landlord asks you for one or both of the following, you must provide:
- a receipt or signed statement that the order of protection has been given to law enforcement to be served upon the abuser; and/or
- in writing, the name and address (if known) of the respondent against whom you have your order of protection or police report.2
1 A.R.S. § 33-1318(A), (C)
2 A.R.S. § 33-1318(A)(1), (B)
Do I still have to pay rent that I owed to the landlord before I terminated my lease?
Most likely, yes. Even if you terminate your lease, you will still have to pay the landlord any unpaid rent or other money that you already owed him/her before the lease was terminated, including rent for the month that you will be living there after you give the 30 days notice of termination. This amount must be paid to the landlord on or before the date you vacate the home or apartment that you were renting.
You will not have to pay rent for the months that would have been left on the lease after you leave the apartment or house, assuming you properly followed all of the steps outlined in What steps must I take to terminate my lease early? (Note: If you already pre-paid rent that would apply for the month in which you terminate your lease, your landlord does not have to refund that money to you.)
Additionally, your landlord cannot keep your security deposit solely because you are terminating your lease early under this law. Your landlord, however, can keep this deposit for other reasons, such as if there is damage to the apartment, etc.1
1 A.R.S. § 33-1318(D)