Question: Water damage happened to my apartment that was not my fault. My landlord has a restoration company drying out the carpet and other flooring. They are using large fans and water removal machines. I was told that I have to leave the air conditioner and other electricity running for the machines to operate and not overheat. Am I responsible for paying the electric bill during the time that they are making repairs even though I cannot live in the apartment, due to no functioning bathroom and loud machinery? I asked the landlord if he will reimburse me on the electricity and he said,"No!"
In Arizona, when a lease is entered into, the landlord and the tenant each have rights and responsibilities. While a landlord can bill separately for utilities, he/she cannot make a tenant to sign a lease that requires a tenant to waive any rights under Arizona law. A.R.S. §§ 33-1314.01 () & 33-1315. It is also illegal for a landlord to allow someone to live in a residence rent free in return for the landlord not maintaining the property. A.R.S. § 33-1316. A landlord is required to do the following under Arizona law A.R.S. §§ 33-1322 – 1324.
• Provide the tenant with the name and address of the property’s owner and manager
• Provide the tenant with a free copy of the Arizona Landlord and Tenant Act
• Provide the tenant with a signed copy of the lease
• Provide the tenant with possession of the residence
• Comply with applicable building codes
• Make necessary repairs so that the residence is habitable
• Keep common areas clean
• Maintain all electrical, plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning equipment
• Provide for the removal of trash
• Supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water Failure to Supply Essential Services A.R.S. § 33-1364
If a landlord fails to provide running water, gas and/or electrical service, or fails to provide reasonable amounts of hot water, heat and/or cooling, then the tenant may give notice to the landlord that he is in breach of the lease. At that point, the tenant has one of the following three options:
Option One: The tenant can arrange for utilities on his own and deduct the cost from the rent. With the utility company’s approval, a tenant group or group of tenants can pay a landlord’s delinquent utility bill and deduct that amount from their rent.
Option Two: The tenant can file suit and recover damages based on the decreased fair rental value of the residence.
Option Three: The tenant can find substitute housing (e.g. a motel) during the period of the landlord’s noncompliance. If this occurs, the tenant is excused from paying rent for as long as the landlord does not provide the essential service.
Other Noncompliance by the Landlord A.R.S. § 33-1361.
If the landlord fails to comply with the lease in a material way, the tenant can deliver a written notice to the landlord explaining the failure and stating that the lease will terminate in 10 days. If the landlord’s noncompliance is materially affecting the tenant’s health and safety, then the same notice can state that the lease will end in 5 days. There are two exceptions. First, if the problem can be fixed before the date specified on the notice, then the lease will continue. Second, the problem cannot have been cause by the tenant or his guest.
April 07, 2011