PHOENIX (CN) – Three bills in the Legislature would reduce tenants’ rights by changing Arizona’s Forcible Entry and Detainer Act and Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.
The director of the nonprofit William E. Morris Institute for Justice calls the bills “bad public policy.” The Institute works on issues that affect low-income Arizonans.
House Bill 2128 would amend the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act so that a landlord could enter a unit without notice or permission to see if a tenant has moved.
House Bill 2129 would allow a landlord to enter a unit to make a repair without notice.
House Bill 2200 changes the appeals process in the Forcible Entry and Detainer Act to require a tenant to post a bond and pay rent if the tenant wants to remain in the unit pending an appeal.
“We think this is bad public policy,” Morris Institute director Katz told Courthouse News Service, referring specifically to HB 2129.
“Currently, if the tenant says ‘I have a leaky faucet,’ the tenant has to allow the landlord to come into the unit, and the landlord has to give the tenant notice. What [HB] 2129 does is waive the right to notice when the landlord comes into the unit.”
House Bill 2129 amends the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act by allowing the landlord to enter a unit to make a repair without notice. The bill says that if the tenant “notifies the landlord of a service request or a request for maintenance … the notice from the tenant constitutes permission from the tenant for the landlord to enter the dwelling unit,” and that the tenant “waives receipt of any separate or additional access notice that may be required.”
HB 2128 states that if “tenancy has been terminated by proper notice by the tenant and the tenant has not returned to the landlord the keys to the dwelling unit,” the landlord may enter the unit without notice, “to determine whether there is reasonable evidence that the tenant has vacated the dwelling unit.”
If no property remains in the rental, “the landlord may take immediate possession of the dwelling unit,” and may “make and retain either a photographic record or a videotaped recording of the entire dwelling unit that depicts the condition the unit was in at the time of entry to the unit,” the bill states.
Katz also objected to HB 2128: “They could have seen the tenant at the unit that day and still go into the unit,” Katz said.
“When the landlord goes into the unit, they are supposed to determine if there is property of material value. There might not be that much property at that point, but it may be important property for the tenant.”
House Bill 2200 changes the appeals process in the Forcible Entry and Detainer Act.
The bill states that a tenant who wants to “stay the execution of the judgment for possession shall file a supersedeas bond in the amount of rent accruing from the date of the judgment until the next periodic rental date, together with costs and attorney fees, if any, or the amount ordered to the prevailing party in the judgment in a forcible entry and detainer action, whichever amount is greater.”
The money will be paid by the justice court to the “owner, landlord or agent as they accrue to satisfy the amount of periodic rent due under the lease or rental agreement,” the bill states.
If the tenant fails to pay the rent due, “the party in whose favor a judgment for possession was issued may move the justice court to lift the stay of the execution of the judgment for possession,” the bill states.
“What this will do is, if a tenant can’t stay in a unit pending an appeal, the tenant probably won’t go forward with the appeal,” Katz said. “If this goes forward, many tenants aren’t going to file an appeal.
Most evictions are heard in justice courts. Mistakes are made and appeals are a way to correct them.”
All three bills are sponsored by Republican Rep. Steve Urie of Gilbert.
HB 2129 was sent to Gov. Jan Brewer on March 26.
The other two bills are still in the state Senate.