Your lease is an important legal document which is actually a binding contract between yourself and the owner of the property. Residential leases fall under a group of State Statutes calledTHE ARIZONA RESIDENTIAL LANDLORD AND TENANT ACT.You can get a free copy of the Act by contacting the office of The Arizona Secretary of State. A real estate agent can answer general questions about your lease, but is not allowed to give you legal advice.

CAN I BREAK MY LEASE, WITH A 30-DAY NOTICE? Your lease ends on the date specified in the agreement. Neither the landlord nor the tenant can legally terminate the agreement earlier unless mutually agreed upon in writing, except in the case of a breach by the other party.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I BREAK MY LEASE? The landlord must make a good-faith effort to re-rent the property; however, the tenant is responsible for any lost rents and all cost of finding a new tenant, including advertising and real estate commissions.

CAN I USE MY SECURITY DEPOSIT TO PAY MY LAST MONTH RENT? Unless otherwise agreed in the lease, you must pay your final month rent on the date due. Your security deposit is a refundable security deposit, and not a prepaid last month rent.

WHAT IF I GET TRANSFERRED ON MY JOB? There is no provision in the law for terminating a lease due to a job transfer. You are still obligated to your lease. The only exception is in some cases of Military Transfers (see your lease agreement for specific language.)

If you think there is any possibility you might not be able to fulfill your lease obligations to the very end, discuss this with the Landlord or Agent before you sign. Provisions for an early termination might be negotiated as part of the agreement, in return for a higher rent or other consideration.

IS THERE A “GRACE PERIOD” FOR RENT PAYMENTS? No, the rent is due on the date specified. Rent received after that date is late and subject to late fees.

WHAT IF THERE IS MORE THAN ONE TENANT? All tenants signing the lease are “jointly and severally” liable under the law. This means that each person is responsible not for just their “fair share,” but for 100% of the obligations relating to the property. Additionally, your lease specifies who will be living in the property, so you must contact the landlord or agent regarding any changes in occupancy or you may be in breach of the lease.

WHO FIXES THINGS THAT BREAK? The landlord is obligated to provide working heat, air conditioning and plumbing, and to fix things which break from ordinary wear and tear. The tenant is liable for any damages not a result of ordinary use.

WHAT IF THERE IS A BURGLARY OR SOMEONE GETS HURT? Neither the real estate agents nor the landlords are responsible for things beyond their control, so in all such cases the tenants are responsible for themselves, their guests and their personal property. YOUR BEST PROTECTION IS RENTERS INSURANCE OR A PERSONAL LIABILITY POLICY.

WHAT IF THE LANDLORD AND I LATER AGREE TO SOMETHING NOT WRITTEN IN THE LEASE? We all tend to remember things a little differently, so everything should be in writing, with no “special” understandings.

WHAT IF THE LANDLORD WANTS TO COME INTO THE PROPERTY? Under Arizona Law, the landlord has the right to come into the property to make repairs or to show the property to a prospective buyer or tenant. Other than in an emergency, access must be during reasonable hours and requires at least 48 hours written notice. A tenant who refuses to provide the owner or agent reasonable access is in breach of the lease agreement and may be liable for any financial damages the owner may suffer.

WHAT DO I DO AT THE END OF MY LEASE? You must give 30-days written notice. Notice must run from the first to the end of the month. Then you should arrange for a move-out inspection. Under the Landlord & Tenant Law, you are in possession of the property (and liable for rent) until you physically give the keys and any garage door remotes to the landlord. Just leaving the keys in the unit DOES NOT satisfy the law for surrendering the property.