Tenants Have Protection in Foreclosures

By Christopher Combs | January 3, 2019

Question: We have been renting a home in Chandler for several years. We just signed another one-year lease. Two nights ago a process server came by and posted a notice of foreclosure in our front yard. Our landlord lives in Chicago and has not returned our phone calls. If our home is sold in foreclosure, when will we have to move? Answer: In general, a federal law protecting tenants in their homes during any foreclosure by the landlord’s mortgage lender has been in effect since 2009, and has been recently renewed with no expiration date. If you are a bona fide…


Occupation not a Protected Class Under Fair Housing

By Christopher Combs | May 28, 2018

Question: My wife and I recently moved to the Phoenix area from New York. We are both lawyers, and we have credit scores in the 800s. We wanted to rent a nice home in Paradise Valley for a year, until we decided where we want to live permanently. We signed a lease for this home and our real estate agent presented the lease to the landlord for his signature. The landlord was pleased with the terms of the lease, but when he did a credit check and learned that we were lawyers, he refused to sign the lease. We can’t believe…


Do Renters Pay HOA Fines?

By Christopher Combs | May 24, 2018

Question: I am the president of our HOA in Chandler. One of our homeowners has rented her home to a young ASU student. He has a motorcycle that he drives at dangerous speeds in our community, and he has ignored the complaints from other homeowners. We have contacted the elderly lady who owns the home, and she said that there is nothing that she can do. Our CC&Rs authorize us to fine homeowners who drive at dangerous speeds in our community. Our written fine schedule says that the first fine can be $50 and the second fine can be $100. We…

How to Exercise a Lease Option to Purchase

How to Exercise a Lease Option to Purchase

By Christopher Combs | April 16, 2018

Question: I am renting a three-bedroom home in Northwest Phoenix. The lease has a one-paragraph option to purchase. The lease will expire shortly, and I have notified the owner of the home that I intend to exercise the option to purchase. What do I need to do to exercise our option to purchase? Answer: A lease containing a provision providing the tenant with an option to purchase the property should state the specific terms of purchase. The best option to purchase provisions use an executed purchase contract, or at least a rough draft of a purchase contract, as an exhibit to…

Abusive Husband

Abusive Husband Enables Wife to Cancel Lease

By Christopher Combs | February 18, 2018

Question: My husband and I have leased a home in Scottsdale through next September. Although my husband has physically abused me in the past, this time I had to get a court protective order. I am filing for divorce, and moving back to Colorado to stay with my parents.  Do I still have responsibility for lease payments until September even though I am terrified to be near my husband? Answer: Probably not. A.R.S. § 33–1318 authorizes a victim of domestic violence to terminate a lease within 30 days if certain requirements are met, e.g., delivery to the landlord of a…


Landlord Can Sue Former Tenant for Defamatory Internet Comments

By Christopher Combs | January 21, 2018

Question: We own a rental home in Gilbert. We had a tenant who was like the crazy tenant that Michael Keaton played in the movie “Pacific Heights.” We were finally able two months ago to evict this tenant, who promptly posted defamatory statements on and other websites about both us and the rental home. We have been unable to rent the home, and two prospective tenants changed their minds for no reason. Is there anything that we can do? Answer: Yes. Your former tenant can be liable to you for damages because of untruthful and defamatory online statements that…

Locked Out By Landlord

Lockout by Landlord for Breach of Commercial Lease

By Christopher Combs | January 7, 2018

Question: We own a small industrial building in Gilbert with one tenant. Under our lease there is a clause that prohibits the storage of poisonous and noxious chemicals in the building. We became aware that our tenant was storing large containers of sulfuric acid in the building. We then gave our tenant the 10-day written notice to correct the problem as required by the lease. On the 10th day the tenant said that the large containers of sulfuric acid had been removed. However, I inspected the premises last night and the large containers were still there. Can we lock out…


Are Landlords Liable for Information they Give Out?

By Christopher Combs | December 19, 2017

Question: In a recent column you said that an apartment landlord has the right to ask former landlords if the tenant had any problems, such as late rent payments or damage to the apartment. We own an apartment building in Chandler and frequently get calls from landlords about one of our former tenants. Do we have any liability to our former tenant if the information disclosed to the new landlord is wrong, and our former tenant is unable to rent the apartment? Answer: If you incorrectly communicated the tenant’s rental history to the new landlord, and your former tenant was unable…