Arizona’s lawmakers recently passed a rental law that would shortcut the eviction process by allowing police to immediately eject any occupant not named on the lease. The bill now awaits the Governor’s signature.
While proponents described their intent as a way to help tenants whose guests won’t leave voluntarily, the language of the bill is so general that opponents fear the scope may be interpreted as much broader. Some fear that the law will be used to discriminate against minority tenants.
The law reads, in it’s entirety:
“A PERSON WHO IS A GUEST OF A TENANT WHO IS NOT NAMED ON A WRITTEN LEASE AND WHO REMAINS ON THE PREMISES WITHOUT THE PERMISSION OF THE TENANT OR THE LANDLORD IS NOT A LAWFUL TENANT AND THAT PERSON’S PRESENCE IN OR ON THE PREMISES DOES NOT CONSTITUTE RESIDENCY OR TENANCY. A PERSON WHO KNOWINGLY REMAINS ON THE PREMISES WITHOUT THE PERMISSION OF THE TENANT OR THE LANDLORD MAY BE REMOVED BY A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER AT THE REQUEST OF THE TENANT OR THE LANDLORD WHO IS ENTITLED TO POSSESSION OF THE PREMISES.”
The controversy stems from the simplicity of the language as well as the interpretation of the phrase “the tenant or the landlord.” Some take this ‘either/or’ language to mean that the landlord could call police to eject a guest over the objection of the tenant. If so, then there is no specific time limit carved out for visiting family members or other short-term house guests, who suddenly could find themselves out on the street.
The bill is silent on what would happen to the ejected guest’s personal property, or if criminal charges would be filed. Although the law is entitled “Removal of guest; notice“, there is no prior notice provision included.
It appears the purpose of the bill was to clear the way for immediate policy intervention, where otherwise officers may feel a dispute of this nature is outside their jurisdiction. However, it is unclear whether the law would preempt a lease agreement that allows guests to stay for any certain period of time.
Local news agencies have reported protests by tenant advocates who are asking the Governor to veto the measure, which passed both chambers by a healthy margin.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.