Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

questions & answers

Question: My lease began 5/19/17 the landlord promised the house would be ready to occupy. I only moved some furniture there 5/20/17 moved more furniture used toilet discovered nothing toilet tanks have black mold growing . Requested remediation of mold. Only removal of mold occurred no cleaning of tanks to remove spores or tencales upon inspection if tanks evening of 5/21/17 new mold was reappearing tank had strong odor of mold when openened. Is landlord required to remove this health hazard? Am I bound by law to the lease? Do I have rights to reimbursement of moving expense?

Answer: Under the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (A.R.S. Title 33 Chapter 10), landlords are required to “make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition” (A.R.S. 33-1324). Tenants are under their own obligation to keep their rental units clean and safe (A.R.S. 33-1341). Except in true emergency situations, before a tenant may attempt to terminate a lease on the grounds that the landlord has failed to fulfill one of the landlord’s responsibilities (for example, not fixing a mold problem), the tenant must first provide the landlord with formal written notice, by delivering to the landlord – either by hand or by certified mail – a signed and dated letter describing the problem in detail and requesting that the landlord fix it as soon as possible. (It is always recommended that tenants keep careful records of all their correspondence with their landlords and also take time-stamped photos and/or video to serve as a documentary record of the problem. If, after a reasonable period of time has passed since the landlord received the tenant’s letter, the landlord does nothing to fix the problem, the tenant will want to be able to prove (to a court of law, if necessary) that the mold was a serious problem. The most important thing is for the tenant to be able to show that the tenant tried to resolve the problem with the landlord and that breaking the lease was a last resort.) If, after a reasonable period of time, the landlord does nothing to remove the issue, and the tenant believes that, by failing to act, the landlord is in violation of the landlord’s duty to “make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition” (A.R.S. 33-1324), then the tenant may deliver to the landlord a second 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). Conditions materially affecting health and safety include, among other things, “inadequate sanitation, ventilation, or space requirements,” “hazardous or unsanitary premises,” “inadequate maintenance,” and “unhealthy conditions” (A.R.S. 9-1303). The tenant also may sue for any damages suffered by the tenant due to the landlord’s noncompliance with the landlord’s obligations (A.R.S. 33-1361).

QUESTIONS

  • My lease began 5/19/17 the landlord promised the house would be ready to occupy. I only moved some furniture there 5/20/17 moved more furniture used toilet discovered nothing toilet tanks have black mold growing . Requested remediation of mold. Only removal of mold occurred no cleaning of tanks to remove spores or tencales upon inspection if tanks evening of 5/21/17 new mold was reappearing tank had strong odor of mold when openened. Is landlord required to remove this health hazard? Am I bound by law to the lease? Do I have rights to reimbursement of moving expense?

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