Real estate agents working in Phoenix are required to abide by several state laws as noted by the Department of Real Estate. If you are a prospective homebuyer, familiarizing yourself with applicable flat fee real estate Phoenix laws will help you avoid becoming a victim of questionable practices.
Flat Fee Real Estate Phoenix Laws
There are several new Phoenix laws aimed at protecting both landlords and tenants, and future buyers. Here are the laws you should be aware of:
Homestead protection law protects small property owners and homeowners from being left homeless in times of economic strife. Homestead law allows homeowners to declare part of their property as a homestead, making it off-limits to creditors.
Under Phoenix homestead laws, homeowners need to declare at least $80,000 worth of their home as a protected homestead in bankruptcy proceedings or other actions that creditors can take. Note that the maximum property value that can be designated as a homestead is $175,000.
This also applies if either spouse is unable to engage in meaningful employment, is disabled, or is above 65 years. If the sale is involuntary or you are above 55 years with gross income not exceeding $25,000, the maximum property value is still $175,000.
Leases and Rental Agreements Law
This law protects tenants from unjust rental increases. Keep in mind that before a landlord-tenant relationship is developed, both Phoenix and the federal government enforce anti-discrimination laws on the selection process of tenants.
This means a landlord will not discriminate against a potential tenant based on things such as sexual orientation, religion, race, or disability when considering whether to lease or not There are also certain terms that should be included in the written agreement if a tenant wants to sign a lease. These terms include:
- The person that will receive the rent and their contacts
- The physical address of the property
- How the rent will be paid e.g via check
- Where the rent should be paid
- Agreed rental amount
- When the rent is due
The above information can seem unimportant to a tenant, especially when you have passed the landlord’s screening process. However, overlooking crucial information like when to pay rent can make you miss a payment, making the landlord begin the eviction process. The landlord can also lose eviction proceedings if the lease doesn’t have important information.
Security Deposit Limits Law
Most landlords need a security deposit before tenants can move into their property. The deposit is usually returned to the tenant after the lease period ends, minus any money required for repairs or other expenses passed onto the landlord. In Phoenix’s rental market, some questions often come up. Let’s address them.
Is There a Security Limit in Phoenix?
In Phoenix, there’s a maximum amount any landlord can charge tenants for a security deposit and it usually depends on whether the home is furnished or not. Landlords can’t ask for more than 2 months’ rent if the home is unfurnished. However, they can charge up to 3 months’ rent for the deposit if it is.
Is the Deposit Non-Refundable?
Non-refundable security deposits are against the law in Phoenix. Note that this usually comes up when pet deposits are mentioned. While your landlord may want you to pay more for your pet, it should only be within the limits we have talked about. The pet fee cannot be non-refundable.
What Can the Landlord Deduct From My Deposit When I Move Out?
Under Phoenix laws, the landlord can deduct all or part of your deposit due to the following reasons:
- Cleaning expenses to get the property back to good condition
- Damage to the property
- Rent arrears
How Long Do Landlords Have To Return Deposits?
Landlords are required to return your deposit within 14 days after moving out and should include an itemized list of deductions taken from your security deposit.
Adverse Possession Law
Adverse possession is when a person moves into an abandoned property publicly and then is awarded a title deed after a certain period has elapsed. It may seem like a justified grant to a person who will use the property well or unfair land theft.
This law is based on the assumption that no land should sit idle. These protections are invalid if the property possession isn’t done openly. Phoenix adverse possession law requires 5 years of possession and tax payment throughout that period to qualify for the legal title.
How To Claim Adverse Possession
There are four elements that make an adverse possession claim valid:
- Exclusive and Continuous Possession: The infringer can’t share possessions with other people, and should be in possession of the property for 2 years.
- Hostile Claim: The infringer should either be aware of his infringing, occupy the property without knowing it’s private land or rely on an invalid deed.
- Notorious and Open Possession: The act of infringing cannot be done in secret
- Actual Possession: The infringer should be present on property physically, treating it as his land.
Property Line and Fence Law
Many issues arise over the construction and maintenance of fences. Fortunately, Phoenix law offers guidance concerning property lines and fences. If there’s a dispute, Phoenix law presumes both owners benefit from the fence equally and are also responsible for construction and maintenance expenses.
However, you can revoke this with more evidence because it is not an absolute ruling. Under Phoenix law, you can also sue your neighbor for private nuisance if they build a house with a wood fence that’s 10 feet high just to annoy you. Tree trimming is another area of contention.
In Phoenix, trees are strictly protected because they form part of the landscape. So you have to be careful when cutting branches even when they extend onto your house. You also need to act reasonably when pruning or cutting down trees and avoid damaging or killing them as you can face harsh civil penalties.
If you’re looking to buy or sell your home, it’s important to familiarize yourself with these laws whether you are a buyer or a homeowner. Before making any real estate-related decisions, study the new regulations to help you during transactions.