First let me point out how disappointing the Arizona law is regarding Tenant/Landlord issues. Laws exist (the Arizona Revised Statutes), but no one polices them, so property management companies can give you a garbage lease—full of illegalities—and no one will do anything about it. The woman at the Dept. of Housing suggested I contact my legislator. Sigh.
So, if you run into any issues with a bad lease or corrupt property management company, you have to go to civil court. Also note that because the settlements are usually 2X or 3X the rent amount, few lawyers deal with tenant/landlord issues.
Overall, before renting in Arizona, scrutinize the lease with a fine tooth comb before giving them a penny. Earnest Money is a legal scam for rental units. Familiarize yourself with the Arizona Revised Statutes. And if you run into problems, you can consider the resources below.
The woman with whom I spoke was excellent. As she will inform you, she cannot give legal advice; however, her knowledge of the Arizona Revised Statutes was superlative. This is a must-do if you are a tenant or landlord with lease issues.
Courtney Parmer Landlord/Tenant Counselor email@example.com 200 W Washington St 602-534-4444, option 4
I first E-mailed. She sent a handful of useful PDFs including the Landlord/Tenant Act.
For more specific information, set up an appointment with her. I had to go in person to set up an appointment, and the appointment started 30-40 minutes late, but it was still worth it because she really spelled out the law as it related to the issue at hand.
They print the Arizona Revised Statutes, but they don't enforce them. No one enforces them. So, if the property management company in question intentionally misleads the public, e.g. 33-1315, there is no agency to tell them to stop. (Possibly you can file an injuction with the Superior Court, but the $333 filing fee may give you pause).
It's not their charter. The bad thing is that they won't actually tell you this right out. I asked to talk to manager, and I got an assistant manager. She put me in touch with a manager the following week. This manager told me flat out that this is not their charter. Prior to this, I had spent a lot of time sending information and evidence under the impression that if enough people complained the Attorney General would do something about it. Not for landlord/tenant issues, and not even for a property management company that intentionally dupes the public—illegally.
On a personal note, I was quite disappointed with their front-line staff. I first received an incredibly stupid response, then I got a canned response. Neither of these responses had my name correct or my full address. This agency, of all those I contacted, showed the least professionalism. When I finally talked to the assistant manager and manager, I did get reasonable responses, even if they were negative.
A.R.S. 33 isn't their charter. I gotta say, this department seemed pretty on the ball. In fact, I got answers early morning before working hours. Unfortunately, they don't deal with landlord / tenant issues.
Initially, this was the only organization that seemed interested in doing something about unethical/illegal acts of a REALTOR, assuming the person you dealt with was a REALTOR.
The AAR follows the Code of Ethics (CoE) of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). These are easy enough to understand, and the public can file a complaint with the AAR within 6 months of the issue.
Unfortunately, even with copious hard evidence, the AAR sided with the property management company who gave no real evidence. No surprise, really. Partisanism.
If you can show that a landlord has deliberately put illegalities into a lease, you may recover actual damages up to 2X your rent. Of course, you have to weigh this against your time, the fee for small claims court, attorney fees, and the very real possiblity that the court rules against you just because.