New Arizona law will let residential landlords remove unwanted guests

Landlord power to remove tenant guests expanded by new Arizona law.

In April 2015, the Arizona legislature passed and Gov. Doug Ducey signed a new state law expanding the power of landlords to have unwanted guests removed from residential rental premises. This bill will become effective July 3, 2015, after which a landlord can call police to have a person removed from rental premises if the guest is there without permission of either the tenant or the landlord.

While the media focuses on whether the measure unwisely expands the powers of landlords, the law does also say that the tenant may call in law enforcement in the same situation for the same purpose.

Supporters of the law characterize it as pro-tenant because it allows a landlord to help a tenant who is stuck with an unwanted guest.

Opponents worry that an aggressive landlord may be able to use the law to have someone removed from the premises over the objection of the tenant. According to the Arizona Capitol Times, state Sen. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford, says, however, that most leases will protect guests on the premises at the invitation of the tenant.

The Arizona Daily Star reports that Sen. Griffin said the bill grew from a situation wherein a guest would not vacate rental premises even though the landlord and tenant both had directed that the person leave.

The Star also published the opinion of an attorney with the William E. Morris Institute for Justice that the law might allow a landlord to have a social guest of a tenant removed at the landlord's discretion, and that Sen. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix, worries that it could allow landlords to discriminate.

Interestingly, it appears possible that the language could be open to legal interpretation. The bill says that the guest of a tenant not named on a lease who "remains on the premises without the permission of the tenant or the landlord is not a lawful tenant" and that such a guest who knowingly stays 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 ..."

The use of the word "or" between the words "tenant" and "landlord" in reference to permission to stay on the premises could potentially be interpreted to mean the landlord could have a tenant's guest removed because the landlord did not give permission to be there, even if the tenant did.

Landlords, renters, law enforcement, legislators, advocates and attorneys will watch with keen interest to see how the law is used and interpreted by police and courts. In the meantime, any residential landlord or tenant who needs legal guidance concerning the law should contact a knowledgeable housing lawyer to understand what rights the law grants and how parties should proceed under it.

With offices in Boulder and Goodyear, Arizona, and Boulder, Colorado, the real estate attorneys at Law Offices of Mark Wm. Hofgard, Esq. represent landlord and tenant clients in rental disputes and in legal issues related to leases and rental property, as well as in other real estate and real property matters.

Keywords: landlord, tenant, guest, Arizona, bill, legislature, premises, remove, police