Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

questions & answers

Question: We signed a year lease on a house that we discovered upon move-in smells strongly of animal urine. There has been an initial deep cleaning, which has not solved the problem. I believe it is not repairable. We were told we could leave without breaking the lease. If the property management company does not honor that verbal contract, what information is available as a back up?

Answer: Under the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (A.R.S. 33 Chapter 10), landlords are required to ensure that the properties that they lease to tenants are in a “fit and habitable condition” (A.R.S. 33-1324). If the urine smell is disturbing your enjoyment of the property – and the problem was neither caused nor exacerbated by you (the tenant) or by any of your guests – then your landlord (the property management company) should be responsible for ensuring its removal. If you are concerned that your landlord may not honor its verbal promise to allow you to terminate the lease without penalty, you could always request that it put that promise in writing. Written agreements are always easier to prove in court than purely verbal ones are. You also may wish to request – through a signed and dated letter describing in as much detail as possible the nature and severity of the problem – that your landlord try one more time (using a different cleaning method or company) to have the smell removed. If you later decide to seek the termination of the lease without penalty on the grounds that the urine smell constitutes a breach of the landlord’s obligation to maintain the property in a “fit and habitable condition,” this letter will serve as valuable evidence of the severity of the problem and of your good faith efforts to have it remedied.

QUESTIONS

  • We signed a year lease on a house that we discovered upon move-in smells strongly of animal urine. There has been an initial deep cleaning, which has not solved the problem. I believe it is not repairable. We were told we could leave without breaking the lease. If the property management company does not honor that verbal contract, what information is available as a back up?

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