Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

questions & answers

Question: I am a renter with wife and 3 children, We have not had A/C since 8/31/17. Landlord has a home warranty program and its taking forever to rectify the issue. Ive been told various dates and times but they always fall through. Now its supposed to be Saturday 9/9/17 btwn 12-4. What is my recourse against the Landlord? she has offered nothing . All I hear is she is a single mom of 3 kids, who lives with her parents.

Answer: Under the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (A.R.S. Title 33 Chapter 10), a landlord is required by law to (among other things) “make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition”; “maintain in good and safe working order and condition” all A/C units supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord; and supply “reasonable air-conditioning or cooling where such units are installed and offered, when required by seasonal weather conditions” (A.R.S. 33-1324). If your A/C unit is not working, then the legal options available to you will depend on whether you want (a) to continue to reside in the dwelling while waiting for the A/C unit to be repaired or (b) to terminate the rental agreement if the A/C unit is not repaired quickly. Either way, a tenant in your situation must first provide the landlord with formal written notice of the problem – ideally in a signed and dated letter (keeping a copy for your own records) – describing the problem in detail and requesting that it be fixed as soon as reasonably possible. If, even after that letter has been received, the landlord does not fix the problem, then the tenant has the option of delivering to the landlord a letter describing the problem and informing the landlord that the rental agreement will terminate on a date 10 days (or more) after receipt of the notice if the problem is not fixed in 10 days (or, if the problem materially affects health and safety, 5 days) (A.R.S. 33-1361(A)). If the landlord has acted either *deliberately or negligently* in failing to fix the A/C unit, which is considered an “essential service,” then the tenant may again notify the landlord of the seriousness of the problem and do any of the following: Option One: The tenant may arrange for the required utilities on her own and deduct the cost of those utilities from the tenant’s next monthly rent payment. Option Two: The tenant may file a claim in court to recover damages based on the decreased fair rental value of the dwelling. Option Three: The tenant may find “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(A)). The tenant also has a general right to sue the landlord in court for any monetary damages incurred by the tenant due to the landlord’s violation of A.R.S. 33-1324 (A.R.S. 33-1361(B)). If you would like legal advice from an attorney, there are links to free or low-cost legal services on this website, and the LegalLEARN Helpline toll-free telephone number is 1-866-637-5341.

QUESTIONS

  • I am a renter with wife and 3 children, We have not had A/C since 8/31/17. Landlord has a home warranty program and its taking forever to rectify the issue. Ive been told various dates and times but they always fall through. Now its supposed to be Saturday 9/9/17 btwn 12-4. What is my recourse against the Landlord? she has offered nothing . All I hear is she is a single mom of 3 kids, who lives with her parents.

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