Question: Our rental home has a termite infestation and it's been over a month and our landlord has done nothing about it. What rights do we have? I've been told by our property management company that termites do not qualify under any law to terminate our lease. Are we stuck living in this house?
In the Arizona statute that covers landlord responsibilities in terms of maintaining the premises, A.R.S. 33-1324 section A lists these requirements. A. The landlord shall: 1. Comply with the requirements of applicable building codes materially affecting health and safety. 2. Make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition. 3. Keep all common areas of the premises in a clean and safe condition. 4. Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by him. 5. Provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences for the removal of ashes, garbage, rubbish and other waste incidental to the occupancy of the dwelling unit and arrange for their removal. 6. Supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times, reasonable heat and reasonable air-conditioning or cooling where such units are installed and offered, when required by seasonal weather conditions, except where the building that includes the dwelling unit is not required by law to be equipped for that purpose or the dwelling unit is so constructed that heat, air-conditioning, cooling or hot water is generated by an installation within the exclusive control of the tenant and supplied by a direct public utility connection.
If the landlord does not comply with the tenant’s request, he or she can do the following according to A.R.S. 33-1363 self-help for minor defects. A. If the landlord fails to comply with section 33-1324, and the reasonable cost of compliance is less than three hundred dollars, or an amount equal to one-half of the monthly rent, whichever amount is greater, the tenant may recover damages for the breach under section 33-1361, subsection B, or may notify the landlord of the tenant's intention to correct the condition at the landlord's expense. After being notified by the tenant in writing, if the landlord fails to comply within ten days or as promptly thereafter as conditions require in case of emergency, the tenant may cause the work to be done by a licensed contractor and, after submitting to the landlord an itemized statement and a waiver of lien, deduct from his rent the actual and reasonable cost of the work, not exceeding the amount specified in this subsection. B. A tenant may not repair at the landlord's expense if the condition was caused by the deliberate or negligent act or omission of the tenant, a member of the tenant's family or other person on the premises with the tenant's consent.
Other Noncompliance by the Landlord can be found under 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 caused by the tenant or his guest. In terms of the termite problem, I am not qualified to answer whether or not it violates building codes, affects the health of the occupants, or apply to the landlord’s responsibility to keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition.
An individual may want to consult an attorney who can better assist, given the particular situation. One can locate an attorney at the state of Arizona Bar Association website.
June 13, 2011