Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

questions & answers

Question: If the a/c unit goes out in your apartment can you deduct the cost of a hotel room from your rent

Answer: Under the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, 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 a tenant’s A/C unit is not working, and the temperature (as in the summer) requires A/C, then the legal options available to the tenant will depend on whether the tenant wants (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 whose A/C is not working must first provide the landlord with formal written notice of the problem – ideally in a signed and dated letter (keeping a copy for the tenant’s 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 still fails to fix the A/C, and the tenant wishes to continue to rent the dwelling, then, ONLY IF THE LANDLORD HAS ACTED EITHER *DELIBERATELY OR NEGLIGENTLY* in failing to supply A/C, 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). (These options apply only if the landlord has acted either deliberately or negligently after what the law describes only as a “reasonable” period of time.) If you would like the advice of a lawyer, there are links to free and low-cost legal services on this website.

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  • If the a/c unit goes out in your apartment can you deduct the cost of a hotel room from your rent

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