questions & answers
Question: How long does a landlord have to fix the hot water heater?
Answer: Under the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, landlords are generally required to make timely repairs to ensure that the rented premises remain in a fit and habitable condition and they are specifically required to supply reasonable amounts of hot water at all times (A.R.S. 13-1324). (The landlords and tenants of single family dwellings are permitted to agree in advance to other arrangements in writing.) Hot water is considered an “essential service” that the landlord must make a good faith effort to repair right away (A.R.S. 13-3161). As a general rule, if a landlord fails to comply with the landlord’s obligations under a rental agreement, then the tenant may deliver to the landlord written notice identifying the problem and stating that if the problem is not fixed within 10 days after the landlord receives this notice then the rental agreement will terminate. However, if a landlord fails to comply with the landlord’s obligations in way that affects or threatens to materially affect the health and safety of the tenant, then the tenant may deliver to the landlord written notice identifying the problem and stating that if the problem is not fixed within 5 days after the landlord receives this notice then the rental agreement will terminate (A.R.S. § 33-1361). If a landlord fails to fix the problem within the specified period of time – and the problem can be fixed either for less than $300 or an amount equal to one-half of the monthly rent (whichever is greater) – then the tenant also has the option of notifying the landlord of the tenant’s intention to fix the problem him/herself at the landlord’s expense. If the landlord receives written notice of the tenant’s intention to fix the problem, and still does nothing – either after 10 days if the problem is not too serious or as soon as necessary in the case of an emergency – then the tenant may have the work done by a licensed contractor and, after submitting the bill (including an itemized statement of the work completed) to the landlord, deduct from his rent the actual and reasonable cost of the work from the tenant’s next rent payment (A.R.S. § 33-1363). Given that hot water is considered an “essential service,” if, after what the law describes only as “a reasonable period of time” after the tenant has delivered written notice to the landlord, the landlord still has not restored the essential service, then the tenant also has the option – only if reasonably necessary (and provable to a court) – of finding “reasonable substitute housing” (an inexpensive motel, for example) until the landlord restores the essential service. What this means is that when the tenant pays his/her rent for the following month, the tenant may pay a “prorated” amount. (So, for example, if the monthly rent is $900 (or $30/day), and the tenant is forced to stay in a motel for 5 days, then the tenant may reduce the next month’s rent payment by $150.) If the cost of this substitute housing exceeds the amount of the tenant’s rent for the period, then the tenant also may recover up to 25% (but no more) of the additional expense from the landlord (A.R.S. § 33-1364).
How long does a landlord have to fix the hot water heater?
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