Q: I frequently communicate with my tenant via email. If he is late with rent, can I serve a 5 day notice for non-payment of rent via email?
A: While the courts have not given a definitive answer on this in the context of a landlord-tenant relationship, there are very good arguments why service by email is sufficient if your tenant responds to the email. The Arizona Residential Landlord Tenant Act provides that a person receives notice if it is hand delivered or sent via certified mail. These present irrefutable evidence that the person received the notice. (This is true even if the person does not pick up the certified mailing – it is legally deemed received five days after mailing.) A.R.S. § 33-1310 also provides that a person receives notice if they have “actual knowledge” or when it comes to the persons attention. Therefore, if you send the notice via email, and the tenant sends a response, such response may demonstrate that they had actual notice and therefore you need not hand deliver or certify mail the notice. For further support, if you are intending to make email service a standard of practice in your rentals, I suggest modifying your lease to include the following: “the parties agree that Notice may be given to each party by email to the email address above, or as changed in writing; such email Notice is reasonably calculated to inform the other party in the ordinary course and such Notice shall be deemed received on the date the email is confirmed, or one calendar day after being sent, whichever is earlier.” This mirrors some of the relevant language in A.R.S. § 33-1310.
Please remember, to get that conclusive presumption that the notice was received, it is always better to hand deliver or certify mail the notice to avoid needless arguments from your tenants.
Information contained in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. You should always contact an attorney for legal advice and not rely on information published here.