In Arizona, a landlord must follow certain rules to avoid legal liability when a tenant leaves behind their personal property. The required procedure depends on whether the tenant left the property behind after returning the keys, or the tenant abandoned the property without showing an intention to leave, or the tenant left the property behind after being evicted. Here is an overview of the law on this subject.
Tenants Belongings Left Behind Voluntarily
When a tenant’s belongings are voluntarily left behind after the tenant has shown an intention to move out by returning the keys to the dwelling unit, the landlord can immediately remove and dispose of the tenant’s belongings.
If the tenant has disappeared and did not show an intent to move out, the landlordcannot immediately remove the tenant’s personal belongings. A landlord must first serve the tenant with a Notice of Abandonment. After providing a five day Notice of Abandonment, the landlord can move the items and store them elsewhere. If the landlord chooses this option, he or she must provide additional notice to the tenant of the location, inventory, and cost of storing the items.
The landlord must hold the belongings for 14 calendar days after the landlord takes possession of the property. If a tenant notifies the landlord in writing on or before the date that the landlord intends to sell or dispose of the items, the tenant has 5 calendar days to reclaim the personal property. The tenant must pay for the cost associated with the removal and storage.
Tenant Belongings Left Behind After Eviction
If the tenant is evicted, the landlord can remove the tenant’s belongings the day after a Writ of Restitution is executed and store them. The landlord must provideadditional notice to the tenant of the location, inventory and cost of storing the items.
The landlord must post the notice on the front door or another conspicuous place at the dwelling unit for 5 calendar days. The landlord must also send a copy of the notice via certified mail to the tenant’s last known address, or any additional address the tenant provided to the landlord.
The landlord must hold the belongings for 14 calendar days after taking possession of the property. The tenant has 5 calendar days to reclaim the personal property and must notify the landlord in writing of that intention on or before the date the landlord intends to sell or dispose of the items. The tenant must pay for the cost associated with the removal and storage.
The tenant cannot have access to the personal property until the storage and removal costs are paid in full, except for the following items: clothing, professional or trade related tools, apparatus or books, identification, and financial documents. The landlord does not need to store perishable items, plants, Items that are considered a biohazard, or items that pose a health and safety risk.
If the landlord determines that the value of the personal property is so low and the cost of moving and storing the items exceeds the amount for which it would be sold for, the landlord may destroy or dispose of the items. The landlord may also donate the items to a charitable organization or sell the property.
For the items that are sold, the landlord must use the proceeds for reimbursement of outstanding rent and costs incurred by the landlord. Any additional proceeds must be returned to the tenant via mail and must be held for 12 months if the tenant does not collect the funds.
Landlord Liability for Damaging or Wrongfully Disposing of the Tenant’s Property
Arizona landlords must use “reasonable care” while holding the tenant’s property. If the landlord complies with that obligation and the above rules, he or she is not liable for any loss to the tenant or any third party resulting from moving, storing, selling or donating any personal property left in the dwelling unit. If the landlord does not surrender the property according to these rules, the tenant may receive the personal property or an amount equal to the damages determined by the court if the landlord has improperly destroyed or disposed of the possessions.
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