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Tempe Arizona Business Law Blog

What you should know about locking out a commercial tenant

As a landlord, few things are worse than a tenant that doesn’t pay rent. It can take an immediate bite out of your income, while also requiring you to pepper them with reminders about what they owe.

In some circumstances, a landlord may even be tempted to utilize an option provided by the law: a lockout.

Arizona debt-relief company fined, ordered to pay restitution

Freedom Debt Relief, which has a major office located in Tempe, has agreed to pay $20 million in restitution and a $5 million fine. The restitution will go to the consumers who were improperly charged fees for services they never received. The $5 million fine will go to the federal government. The agreement will allow the company to settle the lawsuit over its business and marketing practices without admitting guilt.

The allegations against the company include the following:

  • Charging its clients without actually settling their debts
  • Obliging clients to forge ahead and craft their own debt settlement agreements and then charging them as if the company had done the work
  • Generally misleading consumers about the extent of the company's ability to diminish or remove their debts
  • Charging fees in advance of actual work -- which then sometimes never happened
  • Instructing consumers to change their billing address to Freedom's offices
  • Failing to tell customers that they were entitled to any unused funds they had deposited in settlement accounts with Freedom
  • Not advising clients that the company could not negotiate with some major credit card companies, including Chase, American Express, Macy's and Discover.

Arizona's real estate market is booming again

Like most of the rest of the nation, Arizona's real estate market suffered when the property bubble burst in 2008. Slightly more than a decade after the Great Recession, however, the real estate market in the state is thriving and expanding again. Investors in the construction business and property markets are taking note.

According to various experts, the boom in new construction and the rise in existing home values have been spurred on by Arizona's tech boom. Corporate relocations and expansions, coupled with higher wages, has increased the demand for housing in general and pushed prices skyward. For example, the median home value for Phoenix has risen a remarkable 5.5% over the past year -- and are anticipated to rise another 2.6% by early 2020. Tempe and Chandler are also considered hot spots for the recent boom.

Don't let copyright infringement hurt your business

Most people don't fully understand the ins and outs of copyright laws -- and that's a big problem when you accidentally impinge on someone else's rights if you're blogging, sharing photos or otherwise using someone else's material for your business.

If you make a mistake, it may not take long for someone to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement against you -- and you could end up paying a lot of money in a settlement even if you think it's unfair. The owner of the copyrighted material is entitled to ask for his or her actual damages if any exist, but he or she may also ask for statutory damages. That can cost you between $750 to $30,000 per incident even if you didn't intentionally infringe. If the owner of the material can prove your infringement was deliberate, the cost can be even higher.

Pilot program offers struggling tenants financial relief

Many families and individuals have suffered financial hardship. For some, their inability to produce a steady income can lead to eviction and homelessness. In Arizona, especially Maricopa County, evictions have become prevalent due to the severe lack of affordable housing.

In 2018, evictions in Maricopa County totaled 43,800; a 3% increase from 2017. The Arizona legal system focuses on pushing out tenants who are unable to pay. The process is quick and swift - if a tenant doesn’t show up to trial, they lose - if the tenant does show up, the state overpowers them with expert attorneys concentrated on protecting the landlord’s rights to the property. Summarized, it’s a lose-lose situation for the tenants in need of help.

Fair Housing Act violations: How to avoid them during listings

A lot of first-time landlords run into trouble with the Fair Housing Act at the very start -- right when they list their property for rent. Many of them may not even realize that they're actually being discriminatory in their ads.

If you're a new landlord (or even an experienced one that needs to brush up on your knowledge), here are some tips that can help you avoid problems when you list your rentals:

When (and how) can you transfer a copyright?

Copyrights are an essential part of protecting your interests -- especially if you are in a creative industry. Your copyright gives you full control over your original work -- without having to be concerned that someone else will claim it as their own or duplicate it without your permission.

However, there are plenty of times that people decide that they want to either give away their copyright or sell it. Like any other form of property, the ownership of a copyright can be transferred to someone else. It's just important (for both parties) that the process by carefully documented.

Get help amending your LLC's articles of incorporation

The articles of incorporation for your limited liability corporation (LLC) are a basic blueprint of your business itself and a contract between all of the owners, shareholders and the state government.

However, your articles of incorporation (along with things like your by-laws) may need amending from time to time to reflect the reality of your business or meet legal requirements. The process for doing this isn't entirely simple, and it needs to be handled properly in order to avoid a serious misstep.

Businesses need to ensure a safe environment for customers

Business owners and operators know they can be held liable if an employee is injured while working on the jobsite, which is why many companies and corporations go to great lengths to ensure that their workers are properly trained and are working in a secure environment. However, businesses also need to make sure that they are providing their customers with a safe environment.

Possible radiation exposure at Grand Canyon Museum highlights need for customer safety

Get help with forcible entry and detainer actions in Arizona

It's every landlord's nightmare: You have a tenant that's troublesome and breaks the rules or just won't pay -- or you purchased a foreclosure property at auction that's still occupied -- so you go through all of the appropriate steps for an eviction. The proper notices are served, and you wait. And... the occupant refuses to leave.

Some homeowners who have lost their houses in foreclosure seem to think that a passive-aggressive response to an eviction will allow them an indefinite rent-free stay where they are. Tenants in rental properties can be just as difficult. When an eviction fails to get a response, you have to take the next step: requesting a judgment of forcible entry and detainer. This essentially means that the occupant is illegally on the property and gives you the legal right to (eventually) remove them.

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