Question:  My tenant moved into my single-family home four months ago and still has not put the utilities in their name, as required by the lease.  Can I shut off the power?

Answer: In Arizona, there is never a situation where the owner can turn off the power.  Under Arizona law, you should serve a 10-day notice for noncompliance with the lease and cite to the lease provision that they are to have utilities in their name.  Also, in the notice, require the tenant to reimburse you the utility payments you have made.  If the tenant fails to put the utilities into their name and pay the back due amounts within the ten days, your remedy is to file an eviction.  Please note that if the tenant has the utilities in their name, and they fail to pay, if the utilities are turned off, it is not the owner’s fault.  On the other hand, it is a much grayer area when the utilities are supposed to be in the tenant’s name, but the owner is paying them because the tenant never switched them over.  Generally, we suggest you continue to pay them and follow the notice process set forth above.  You never want to be in a situation where the tenant can claim you did something that resulted in the utilities not being paid.

By Mark B. Zinman, Williams, Zinman & Parham P.C.

For more information regarding real estate investing, visit the AZREIA (Arizona Real Estate Investors Association) website: http://www.azreia.org