Legal Requirements for Starting a Halfway House in Arizona


Arizona is one of the states that encourages establishments of halfway homes to help people fully recover and reintegrate back to normal society from active drug addiction, mental illness, or rehab living. Like many other states, it has put up regulations to protect sober living home residents from potential neglect, abuse, or fraud from home operators. The state is also keen to protect the neighboring communities from unnecessary disruptions that are likely to be caused by the presence of halfway homes, including improper disposal of wastes, increased traffic, or noise. So, if you’re planning to start a halfway home in Arizona, you will have to fulfill the following set of legal requirements.

Operation Permit

Every halfway home operator in Arizona is required by law to have an operating license from the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) before opening the home. If you are willing and have the capacity to run different homes in different locations, you will need to have a different license for each home. The licenses must be placed in noticeable areas where every resident and state official can easily see them. During application of the license, you will be required to provide documentation showing:

  • Your home has a policy and an operation plan to enhance the rehabilitative process consistent with local regulations.
  • Your house managers are qualified to work in your home. They must have completed high school and have formal training on first aid.
  • The managers must be at least 21 years old, of sound mind, have completed training and certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and are not on parole.
  • Correct details of your halfway home insurance policy
  • A checklist of safety measures you have put in place, including installing effective fire extinguishers in noticeable locations and smoking detectors in all sleeping rooms.
  • Leasing documents showing your plans to use the property as a halfway home if you are leasing a property for your operations.
  • A clear proof that your home will not accept people who pose a potential threat to others, for instance, the sex offenders, depending on the category of people you intend to host.
  • A signed waiver enables code compliance officers or fire inspectors to carry out all necessary inspections to determine whether your establishment is fully compliant with the legal requirements.

If your license is approved, you would be able to renew it after one year. You will be required to submit a complete renewal application form 45 days before the expiry day, along with the renewal fee. You will be denied a license if the requirements are not met. Your license will be revoked if the regulatory authority realizes that:

  •  You failed to pay the application fee.
  • Information you presented was false, or you omitted the crucial ones.
  • You denied authorities access to inspect your home to determine whether it meets and complies with the requirement and if cases of neglect and abuse are reported.
  • You admitted persons who are not in recovery from addiction or are not disabled as described under Fair Housing Act and the Arizona Fair Housing Act. Note that multiple violations of operating rules may lead to permanent revocation of your license and closure of the home.

Note: The law required ADHS to keep the addresses of sober living facilities confidential. For this reason, they will not be available to the public.

Operation Regulations

The success of every home depends on strict adherence to its rules. Depending on the number of residents you are planning to host, ensure you have a set of rules that clearly define what must be done and what must not be done to prevent inconveniences. Some of the most essential rules you must include in your list include:

  • Prohibition of use of alcohol use within the facility
  • Prohibition of use of non-prescribed drugs to avoid potential health risks.
  • Prohibition of criminal activities such as theft within the home
  • Every resident except staff must attend weekly household meetings and actively participate in recovery programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.
  • Every occupant must perform any assigned duty and comply with the applicable home movement restrictions. However, they should not be locked out when there is proof they were engaged in approved activities outside the home.
  • Every resident must take his/her medication as prescribed by a specialist to improve their recovery.
  • All residents must comply with the home’s good neighborhood policy to avoid unnecessary disruptions to the neighbors.

Minimum Standards Requirements

Ensuring that your halfway home is up to standards will save you from license denial or revocation. The standards must meet the needs of the category of residents you are serving and must comply with all the city building codes and zoning laws.

  • Your home must provide a clean and safe environment to residents. Ensure all garbage is collected regularly and disposed of properly.
  • At least one house manager should always be available to help when there’s a need.
  • Case management should be available to help residents get timely substance abuse treatment and community-based recovery services. Wheelchair ramps should be installed at designated places to enhance the movement of people with limited mobility.

Zoning Laws

Locations are zoned for commercial, residential, or both operations, and each city and county in Arizona have their own unique set of zoning regulations and how they are enforced. Before opening any halfway home, you need to find out from the Planning and Development Department whether it is permitted in the location you have chosen. You need to be keen about the laws since any violation can land you in serious trouble, including fine penalty and civil litigation. In fact, you can be denied an operation license or the existing one may be revoked for contravening the zoning laws. If permission is granted, consult with the department about the nature of the house required and the number of residents allowed in a home.


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