Proposed Arizona bill sparks concerns over erosion of renters rights

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- There could be a change coming for renters across the state. A new bill under consideration at the State Legislature would, if passed, essentially give landlords more control, and eliminate the rights of cities, towns and counties from stepping in to help out tenants.

Landlord and tenant disputes aren't always easy, who's supposed to fix what, why and how much, the list goes on. Still, some renters say the state should not be deciding the regulations on these disputes.

Ken Volk has been renting in Tempe since the 1980's. He loves his landlord, but is worried the new bill might take away renter's rights.

"The main bill is to pad the pockets of landlords at the expense of everyone else," said Volk.

House Bill 2115 aims to make landlord and renting practices uniform throughout the state, and would require new regulations to be enacted in state law.

"Basically, what it's legislating is an inequality between cities," said Volk. "If Mesa wanted to adopt a code similar to Tempe's, they won't be able to."

Arizona Multihousing Association lobbyist Jake Hinman says concerns about the bill gutting renter protections during disputes about things like blight or mold are overblown.

"If this bill were to go into effect, these protections would go away, that can't be farther from the truth," said Hinman. "The Arizona Landlord Tenant Act addresses these issues specifically."

The bill passed the House Committee with some concerns.

"I think that this needs further discussion, I think there needs to be more clarity with this bill because it is effecting a lot of people," said State Rep. Walter Blackman. Blackman represents District 6, which covers portions of Coconino, Gila, Navajo and Yavapai Counties, including the cities of Heber-Overgaard, Snowflake, and portions of Flagstaff.

"I'm worried about all of this," said Volk. "Basically, they're pre-empting in order to avoid taking action on things. Getting something passed at the state level is like pulling teeth. Getting something passed at the city level or local town level is easier."

GOP State Rep. John Kavanaugh has proposed an amendment to the bill, in order to grandfather in existing regulations already passed at the local level. The bill has at least one more committee stop before a full house vote