Under the Arizona Residential Landlord Tenant Act, the law currently states that “[a]fter the landlord has retaken possession of the dwelling unit, the landlord may store the tenant’s personal possessions in the unoccupied dwelling unit that was abandoned by the tenant, in any other available unit or any storage space owned by the landlord or off the premises if a dwelling unit is not available . . .” A.R.S. §33-1370(D).

The law further states that the landlord must hold the tenant’s property for 10 days after the landlord declares abandonment. See A.R.S. §33-1370(E).

However, with the recent passage of SB 1376, the current law is changing. SB 1376 was signed by the governor earlier this month and will take effect in about four months.

The new law does not require landlords to “store the tenant’s perishable items, plants and animals.” Rather, it gives the landlord the ability to “remove or dispose of . . . the perishable items, including plants.”

With regard to the tenant’s abandoned animal(s), landlords may remove the animal(s) and place them in a shelter or boarding facility. The landlord must, however, keep a record of the name and location of the shelter or boarding facility where the animal was released.

The new law further offers landlords the discretion to “remove and dispose of any personal property in the dwelling unit that is contaminated or may be considered a biohazard or poses a health and safety risk.” Items of this nature may consist of soiled personal clothing or property.

Previously, the law only allowed for the sale of the tenant’s personal property after the landlord’s mandatory 10 day holding period. The new law now mandates that the landlord “hold the tenant’s personal property for a period of fourteen calendar days after the landlord retakes possession of the dwelling unit.”

After the mandatory holding period, the new law allows the landlord to either donate the tenant’s personal property to a charitable organization or sell the personal property.

If the landlord donates the personal property, the tax benefit from the donation belongs to the tenant. If the landlord sells the tenant’s personal property, the law remains the same with regard to applying the proceeds to the outstanding rent or other costs and forwarding the remaining proceeds to the tenant’s last known address.

However, if the tenant hands the keys over to the landlord and there is personal property remaining in the dwelling, the landlord may immediately remove and dispose of the personal property without liability to the tenant or a third-party unless the landlord and tenant agreed in writing to some other treatment of the property.

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