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Being a victim of crime can lead to housing issues if you are renting or paying a mortgage on your home. Knowing what your rights and responsibilities are can make the situation less stressful. This section provides information about common housing issues faced by victims of crime.

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Early Lease Termination

I no longer feel safe at home and need to move. Am I allowed to break my lease early without penalty?

It depends. Certain criminal offenses are included in an Arizona law that allows the victims to end their lease early.  The law allows victims of domestic violence and sexual assault (if the sexual assault occurred on the property) to break their rental agreement if the victim notifies the landlord within 30 days after the date of the crime.

I was a victim of domestic violence, how do I end my lease early?

To end a rental agreement early if you are a victim of domestic violence, the property owner must be provided with written notice requesting that the lease end within the next 30 days or on another date agreed to by the landlord. The written notice requesting to end the lease must also include one of the following documents:
  • A copy of an order of protection obtained by you or
  • A copy of a police report stating that you notified the police department that you were a victim of domestic violence (or a victim of sexual assault that occurred on the property)
If you end your rental agreement early, you must continue to pay your rent until the day you leave.

If I wasn’t a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, am I allowed to break my lease early?

Unfortunately, victims of other types of crime are not protected under Arizona’s lease termination law. Check the terms of the rental agreement or talk with the property owner to determine what penalties exist for terminating the lease early and what options might be available.

How do I get a copy of a police report?

A police report is often the first official record that a crime happened. A police report is usually filed by the law enforcement officer that responds to a 911 call.  Depending on the situation, it may take more than a day or two after a crime before the first police report is available. To get a copy of the police report, contact the law enforcement agency that first responded to the crime. Some agencies have online request processes or require a form to be completed.
In Arizona, victims of certain criminal offenses (criminal homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft (not motor vehicle), arson, and human trafficking) may request and receive one copy of the police report from the incident free of charge.

If I end my lease early because of domestic violence, will I lose my security deposit?

A security deposit may not be kept by the landlord because the rental agreement was ended early, but the tenant must send a written notice to the landlord after moving out asking for the security deposit. The notice should include a mailing address for the tenant. After receiving the request, the landlord then has 14 business days to return the security deposit along with an itemized list of any deductions. A.R.S. § 33-1321(D)
The landlord can deduct from any unpaid rent, late fees, or other charges from the security deposit. The landlord can also deduct the cost of repairing any damage to the rental unit caused by the tenant. Ordinary wear and tear does not count as damage the landlord can charge for. If a tenant disagrees with the deductions taken by the landlord, they must dispute the charges within 60 days. A.R.S. § 33-321.

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