Here in Arizona, unlike in other states, there’s no governmental infrastructure to help tenants who are having problems with their landlords. Instead, there are two organizations that serve this purpose. The other guys are a for-profit company that legally breaks tenants out of leases. I want to talk to you today about some of the differences between the other guys and us.
First of all, we are a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) membership-driven organization. We are structured as a union. We charge membership dues and we represent our members. The dues are $60.00/year which can be paid in $5.00/month monthly installments so that any tenant can afford to become a member. In fact, the reason we are able to represent tenants is because they are members; we are not attorneys and would not be in a position to give you the kind of advice we do except that the Arizona landlord/tenant act specifically allows tenant unions to represent its members.
The other guys also say they are set up as a union. But their so-called union is just a front for a for-profit, fee-for-service company. All they are interested in doing is breaking people out of their leases for high fees. They also do some letter writing, but again, they charge high fees. I actually worked there before I formed Arizona Tenants Union, and if I remember correctly, they charge $150.00 plus $60.00 union dues for the first letter and $100.00 for each letter thereafter. I am not certain about the exact amount. But I do know it’s substantial, way out of the reach of many tenants who are having problems with their landlords.
And that’s the difference between them and us. We represent our members in whatever kind of problem they are having. If a member received a 10-day notice for a lease violation, we’ll write a response letter that the tenant can serve on his landlord. If a tenant is having a minor repair problem, we’ll write a “repair and deduct” letter that will give the landlord 10 days to make the repair, and if he doesn’t, the tenant can use half his rent money to do so. We will walk the member through the process, make sure the letters are written and served correctly, and make sure that the contractor is licensed and prepares a “waiver of lien” form that is required under the statute. In the very unlikely event that the landlord takes the tenant to court, we will accompany him, and although we cannot formally represent him in front of judge – that is not one of the things that we are allowed to do as a tenants union – we will make sure that he articulates his case in such a way that he prevails. We are renters’ rights in Arizona.
We exist to help tenants, to organize tenants, to advocate for tenants, to strengthen the landlord/tenant act in favor of tenants. We are tenants rights in Arizona. If you call the other guys and do not want to break your lease, they’ll get you off the phone as fast as they can. We do help tenants legally terminate their leases, if that’s the appropriate strategy in their situation. But we take a holistic approach to landlord/tenant practice. If you are having a problem with your landlord, call us. We’re very good at what we do.