Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

questions & answers

Question: Signed a lease agreement a few weeks ago to an apartment sight unseen due to current resident. Today, my wife and i received keys to the new apt. Immediately found a roach infestation. In every room and every corner, black and german roaches coming out of the walls. Not one thing has been moved in yet and we were in the apt for about3 minutes. Can we legally terminate and/or nullify this lease pre move in, due to health concerns with our newborn? I have video of the roaches crawling everywhere.

Answer: I always recommend consulting the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act found here: https://housing.az.gov/sites/default/files/documents/files/AZ%20Residential%20Landlord%20and%20Tenant%20Act%20-%20Revised%20July%203%202015.pdf
A.R.S. 33-1324(A) provides that the landlord must maintain fit premises which includes complying with building codes affecting health and safety and putting and keeping the premises in a fit and habitable condition. From what you wrote, the premises are currently not fit or habitable.

Remedies are under A.R.S. 33-1361. You must provide written notice of the problems and notice that the lease will terminate within ten days (or five days if it materially affects health and safety -- which it sounds like this may) if the breach is not remedied. This notice should be hand-delivered to the landlord so that you don't have an issue with additional days for mailing. If they fix it within the 5 days, the lease will not terminate. If they don't, it will terminate.

As a legal matter, if you walk on the lease they can come after you for damages. As a practical matter, you should do what's best for your family. If you decided to walk on the lease you should still give written notice under A.R.S. 33-1361 that you are terminating the lease because of the breach materially affecting the health and safety of you and your family -- particularly your young child. While it may not protect you 100% if they pursue you, it will help. I would also take photographs of the conditions in case you need to show a judge someday. Please note that I am providing general information based on the very limited information available to me. I am unable to provide you with legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is created hereby. I wish you the best.

QUESTIONS

  • Signed a lease agreement a few weeks ago to an apartment sight unseen due to current resident. Today, my wife and i received keys to the new apt. Immediately found a roach infestation. In every room and every corner, black and german roaches coming out of the walls. Not one thing has been moved in yet and we were in the apt for about3 minutes. Can we legally terminate and/or nullify this lease pre move in, due to health concerns with our newborn? I have video of the roaches crawling everywhere.

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