Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

questions & answers

Question: what is a sufficient temperature for heating in an apartment rental?

Answer: Section 33-1324(A) of the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act requires landlords to “comply with the requirements of applicable building codes materially affecting health and safety” (including those that provide for “adequate heating”); to “do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition”; and to supply “reasonable heat ... when required by seasonal weather conditions.” Unfortunately, the Act does not specify precisely what “adequate” or “reasonable” heat is. However, many individual Arizona towns and cities do specify in their own codes what a sufficient winter temperature is. In Phoenix, for example, the City Code (at Chapter 39-5) says that: “Every rental housing unit shall have heating capable of safely heating all habitable rooms, bathrooms and flushing toilet rooms to a temperature of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit at a distance three feet above floor level in the center of the room. Required heating shall be provided by permanently installed heating facilities.” “No owner, agent, manager or tenant shall provide, install or allow to be installed or used any unvented portable space heaters burning solid, liquid or gaseous fuels.” “No owner, agent, manager, or tenant shall allow the use of any ovens, stoves or ranges, or other cooking appliances for the purpose of heating any portion of a dwelling.” If a rented dwelling is not sufficiently heated, then the tenant may wish to purchase an inexpensive thermometer; keep a record of the temperature in various rooms and at different times of day; and then provide the landlord with a signed and dated letter describing the problem in detail, citing the landlord’s responsibility under Arizona law (A.R.S. 33-1324(A) as well as the applicable code in the tenant’s town or city (if it specifies a minimum temperature)) and requesting that the problem be fixed as soon as possible. If the landlord does not provide sufficient heat within a reasonable period of time after receiving this letter, then the tenant may wish to contact an attorney. There are links to free and low-cost legal services on this website.

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