If I’m a tenant in an apartment complex, what are my options to avoid a fine for something that I didn’t do?

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If I’m a tenant in an apartment complex, what are my options to avoid a fine for something that I didn’t do?

I have always followed the statutes of the lease, paid rent on time every time, maintained the property, am respectful of my neighbors….in short I am a good tenant. However, I came home today to a notice on my door threatening eviction if a lease violation, “improper disposal of cigarette butts”, was not corrected, and informing me of a fine for the violation. Neither I nor my roommate have ever smoked a single cigarette in our lives and have never had guests that smoked. I know that it is the tenants in the apartment below mine throwing the cigarettes off the balcony. I was never given a chance to explain that it was not me.

Asked on June 24, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Send your landlord a letter, sent some way you can prove delivery, stating that you and your roommate do not smoke and therefore did not discard the butts; also state that your downstairs neighbor does smoke and you have seen them throw their butts over the balcony; if you have a photo of the neighbor doing that, include a copy as well. If the landlord insists on trying to get the fine from you and/or evict you, they will have to bring a legal action; if they do, you can present your testimony that you do not smoke and also show the judge a copy of the letter, showing him that you told the landlord that it wasn't you while also telling them who was at fault.


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