Thank you, ATA past and current members.
When you contacted your Arizona representatives and senators, it made the difference. The proposed law, HB2115, is now officially defeated.
HB2115 would have preempted every city and town from adopting codes or ordinances to regulate rental housing. All rental housing standards would have been allowed only at the state level, which in practicality are never enacted. This would have eliminated the rights of tenants to seek enforcement intervention from their localities, as well as blocking neighbors and their municipalities from holding landlords accountable for violating established community criteria. It truly was a power grab by landlords devised for dodging responsibility for maintenance of their rental properties.
In order to explore existing rental codes, please view the ATA website page, Links and Resources, section Rental Resources, or click http://www.arizonatenants.com/links.htm.
WITHOUT RENTAL CODES, THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS
Without municipal codes, the lack of standards at the state level gives rise to such matters being adjudicated each and every time, primarily in the justice courts without precedent established as a guiding principle. For example, what is the definition of reasonable heating or cooling? This constitutes a patchwork redundancy of function that taxes the court system while leaving tenants “out in the cold.” Moreover, it results in countless judicial opinions that are at variance with one another. Municipal standards clarify what the State does not, and will not.
Here’s a prime example of “will not.” ATA representatives have twice approached Arizona legislators about the problem of landlords refusing to provide receipts for rental payments (or even refusing acceptance of the rent outright), and then evicting the tenants on the misrepresentation that rent was not tendered and remains unpaid. This predicament has cropped up hundreds of time in the decades we have been assisting renters, but the legislators turned away from providing any resolution at the State level. And no doubt if it were proposed, landlords would fight it tooth and nail. Under HB 2115 lawmakers are willing to preempt, but State consideration of tenant matters is hit-and-miss, and more often it’s a miss. Whereas, municipalities could deem such a matter to be in the community’s interest, enacting codes on the topic.
On top of all this, tenants would have lost protection under A.R.S. § 33-1381 from landlord retaliation by way of complaint to “a governmental agency charged with responsibility for enforcement of a building or housing code of a violation applicable to the premises materially affecting health and safety.” Why? Because there would no longer have been any such agencies. Arizona renters were set to lose remedies for such “presumptive” retaliation by landlords: meaning loss of our rights, under A.R.S. § 33-1367, to mount a court defense based on retaliation, recover possession, terminate a lease, and recover monetary damages.
WHY CITIES HAVE ENACTED RENTAL CODES
As a general rule, under current law the State does not set specific rental housing standards. In A.R.S. § 33-1324, keywords and phrases are: fit, habitable, reasonable, appropriate, clean, safe, and working order and condition. Likewise, A.R.S. § 9-1303 in large part cites indefinite mandates by way of terms such as: inadequate, insufficient, deteriorated, hazardous, faulty, defective, unsanitary, unhealthy and improper. However, the laws frequently defer to what is required by building codes.
Traditionally, a “political subdivision” may prescribe greater specificity than the State, so long as it does not contradict or supersede a State mandate. HB 2115 would have abolished that. Lawmakers behind HB 2115 claimed that its purpose is to establish “uniformity,” but really the intent was to constrain localities from compelling landlords to maintain their properties as responsible members of the communities.
Municipalities have varying concerns, which is why their codes are so different. For example, air-cooling is paramount for the Phoenix valley, but Flagstaff would conceivably focus on cold weather factors, such as snow removal. In that vein, situations crop up that affect only one or two towns or cities (e.g. minimum ceiling height in Tucson). In such instance it would be pointless, if not counterproductive, for the State to impose statewide standards of limited applicability. And, again, no doubt the landlords would be up in arms in vehement opposition to same. HB 2115 would have wrongfully prevented localities from addressing their particular concerns, to the public detriment.
For example, over the last decade or so a bedbug pestilence has appeared on the scene. Given that A.R.S. § 33-1319, the state standard regarding bedbugs, is very limited -- only mandating that landlords refrain from renting units known to be infested, and requiring them to provide vaguely defined educational materials to renters – county health departments have opted to impose regulations (and soon municipalities may be forced to do the same for the health and safety of their residents).
Here is a sampling of some matters covered by various existing codes:
Tempe 110˚ F. Sect. 21-31(e)
Glendale 110˚ F. Sect. 29.1-11(c)
Tempe 1 gallon/minute Sect. 21-31(g)
Phoenix 82˚ F. if air conditioner and installation required Sect. 39-5(b)
Phoenix 86˚ F. if evaporative cooler and installation required Sect. 39-5(b)
Tempe 82˚ F. if air conditioner and installation required Sect. 21-34(c)
Tempe 88˚ F. if evaporative cooler and installation required Sect. 21-34(c)
Tucson/South Tucson 80˚ F. if mechanical cooling when outside 105˚ F.+ Sect. 16-11(B)(2)/Sect. 7-11(B)(2)
Tucson/South Tucson 88˚ F. if alternative cooling Sect. 16-11(B)(2)/Sect. 7-11(B)(2) Heating
Glendale 70˚ F. and installation required removal prohibited Sect. 29.1-15(b)
Tempe 70˚ F. Sect. 21-34(b)
Phoenix 70˚ F. and installation required Sect. 39-5(a)
Tucson/South Tucson 70˚ F. Sect. 16-11(B)(1)/Sect. 7-11(B)(1)
Combustion heat prohibited
Tempe Sect. 21-34(d)
Phoenix Sect. 39-5(c)
Glendale, or kitchen area Sect. 29.1-13 (a)
Tempe, with sink Sect. 21-32(a)
Tucson/South Tucson, with sink Sect. 16-11(G)(3)/Sect. 7-11(G)(3)
Glendale, supplied by either landlord or tenant Sect. 29-1-13(b)
Tempe, must maintain 40˚-45˚ F. Sect. 21-32(f)
Glendale Sect. 29.1-13(b)
Tempe Sect. 21-32(e)
Youngtown, prohibits planting, offering, selling Olive and male Mulberry trees Sect. 8.32.040(K)
Minimum ceiling height
Tucson/South Tucson, 7 feet+ Sect. 16-11(I)/Sect. 7-11(I)
Tucson/South Tucson, with multiple requirements Sect. 16-12/Sect. 7-12
Door viewer required
Tempe, having 160˚ view, unless door has windows Sect. 21-37(g)
Windows must lock
Tempe Sect. 21-37(n)
Pool water cleanliness
Phoenix, must be clean enough for a 200 mm. secchi disk placed at the bottom of the pool at its deepest point to be visible to a person on the pool deck Sect. 39-7(c)
Tempe, for each bedroom access must not be through another bedroom Sect. 21-36
Glendale, grass & weeds maximum 6 inches Sect. 29.1-21
Tucson/South Tucson, grass maximum 6 inches, weeds maximum 10 inches, accumulation no more than 24 hours, remove weeds & refuse, no burning refuse; composting permitted Sect. 16-13/Sect. 7-13
Exterior pest control
Glendale Sect. 29.1-21(j)
Pool barrier required
South Tucson, 5 feet high Sect. 7-13(G)
Arcadia door lock
Tempe, must lock to prevent exterior access Sect. 21-37(f)(2)
Cities and towns try what works, and make adjustments. More often than not they are indeed working as intended, which is why the State has not been asked to intervene as to any particular rental codes. What would have been prevented by HB 2115 is the right of localities to determine their needs, and express, through rental codes, that they value their communities and their tenant residents.
In the 1993-1994 legislative session ATA’s founder, Ken Volk, worked with tenants to defeat another landlord-sponsored law, SB1296. From that effort the recent tenants movement was borne. Now, for the second time, we have prevented another disaster, HB2115, from becoming law. THANK YOU ATA MEMBERS AND FRIENDS for helping.