dog bite

Liability for Dog Bite — Dog Owner or Landlord?

By Christopher Combs | March 1, 2020

Question: We own a rental home in Peoria. Last week our tenant’s German Shepherd escaped through a hole in the fence, and seriously injured a neighbor’s four-year-old son. In a recent column you said that under Arizona law the owner of a dog has strict liability for a dog bite. The tenant is saying, however, that we are responsible for the attack by their German Shepherd. They claim that there was a hole in the fence when they moved in, and that we promised to fix this hole. In fact, we never knew of the hole in the fence because,…

security deposit

Landlord Must Notify Tenant of Deposit Status Within 14 Business Days After Lease

By Christopher Combs | February 16, 2020

Question: We rented a small furnished home in Phoenix. A burning cigarette severely damaged a sofa which was worth no more than $1,000. When the lease ended, we told the landlord that he could take $1,000 for a new sofa, but that we wanted the rest of our $2,500 security deposit back because the home was otherwise in perfect condition. The landlord said ok. One month later, however, we still have not received any communication from the landlord, who has not responded to any of our texts or emails. How can we get the remaining $1,500 of our security deposit…

service animal

Service Animal Protected Even if Growls at Children

By Christopher Combs | December 29, 2019

Question: We own a small eight-unit apartment complex in north Phoenix. The lease prohibits any pets more than 25 pounds. One of the tenants in this eight-unit apartment complex has a German shepherd. The tenant says that for health reasons he needs this German shepherd. He has a letter from a doctor stating that this German shepherd is a service (or “assistive”) animal to assist in the treatment of the tenant’s anxiety. The other tenants are complaining about this German shepherd who has growled at small children, but has never been aggressive. One tenant is even threatening to move out.…

service member terminate lease

Does Transfer of Air Force Lieutenant Automatically Terminate Lease?

By Christopher Combs | November 3, 2019

Question: We recently purchased an apartment building near Luke Air Force Base. One of our tenants is an Air Force lieutenant who is being transferred to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. He still has four months remaining on the lease, but says that after he moves he will no longer have any obligation to pay the remaining four months of the lease. Do we lose the rent for the remaining four months on the lease because the tenant is being transferred to another Air Force base? Answer: Yes. Under the Service Members Civil Relief Act, a service member is…

mail delivery rule

‘Mail Delivery Rule’ Presumes Landlord Received Notice

By Christopher Combs | October 13, 2019

Question: We leased a small office building in Show Low for five years, with an option to renew for five years. This option to renew for five years required at least 60 days’ notice to the landlord prior to the end of the lease. The landlord lives in Phoenix, so we mailed to the landlord our notice to renew the lease for five years. This mailing, both by first class and certified mail, was almost 90 days prior to the expiration of the lease. The certified mail came back a few days later marked “unclaimed,” but the first class mail…

stack of cash

Difference Between Liquidated Damages, Breach of Contract Penalty

By Christopher Combs | August 18, 2019

Question: Our daughter attends ASU, and we personally guaranteed a one-year lease for her Tempe condominium. The lease expiration date is May 31. Our daughter, however, moved out of the Tempe condominium one month early at the end of April to live with us until she goes to Europe for three months. My daughter’s friend is going to ASU summer school, and she immediately signed a new lease for the same rent and moved into the Tempe condominium on May 1. My daughter’s lease provides for damages in the amount of a 60-day rent payment for early termination of the…

Transferring a Mortgage

Lease Option to Purchase Must Have Specific Terms

By Christopher Combs | July 11, 2019

Question: We are leasing a small building in a Chandler industrial park for five years. After five years we want to have the option to purchase this small building in “as is” condition. Our broker says that this option to purchase only needs to be in a lease addendum that states that there will be an appraisal for the amount of the purchase price, and that we will purchase the industrial building in “as is” condition. We don’t want to spend a lot of time and legal fees now because whether we exercise this option to purchase will depend on…


Can Landlord and Tenant Create a Maintenance Deal?

By Christopher Combs | April 15, 2019

Question: We are negotiating a one-year lease for a North Phoenix home. The landlord wants us to be responsible for maintaining the heating and air-conditioning systems in the home. The landlord is willing to reduce the rent by $200 per month. Can we agree with the landlord to be responsible for maintaining the home in exchange for this $200 reduction in the rent? Answer: Probably. A landlord is required to maintain the premises in a fit and habitable condition.  This requirement includes having to keep all heating and air-conditioning systems in working order.  The landlord and tenant in the rental…