JSH Reporter Summer 2015 - Page 24

CRIMEFREERENTALPROPERTYARTICLE 024 How to manage a crime free rental property In Arizona AUTHOR: John D. Lierman EMAIL: jlierman@jshfirm.com BIO: jshfirm.com/johndlierman A landlord who discovers that his tenant is engaging in criminal activity often cannot evict the tenant for that reason alone, even if the criminal activity is taking place on the landlord’s property. Of course, the landlord can call the police, always the first place to turn when crime is suspected. A prison sentence is more effective than an eviction for getting someone off your property. But many crimes will not be punished with incarceration. Moreover, criminal convictions take time and demand proof beyond reasonable doubt, a standard that may seem a little demanding if all you are trying to do is keep your own property crime-free. If it seems strange that a landlord could know that crimes are being committed on his own property and still be powerless to do anything about it, remember that in entering into a lease, the landlord, or lessor, gives the tenant, or lessee, something called the “right of possession.” For residential leases, that right is conferred by statute. Section 33-1323 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, part of the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, states that at the commencement of the lease, “the landlord shall deliver possession of the premises to the tenant.” Right of possession means that once the lease is signed, for most intents and purposes, the leased real estate belongs to the tenant. The Residential Landlord and Tenant Act includes additional expressions of the tenant’s right of possession. For example, A.R.S. § 33-1343, entitled, “Access,” provides that: “A tenant shall not unreasonably withhold consent to the landlord to enter “Some landlords think that once they have a valid reason to avoid a lease, they are allowed to go onto the property and clear the tenant out themselves. But even apart from the risk of violence, self-help can get you into a lot of trouble.”