Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

questions & answers

Question: Landlord was notified about roach problem. Landlord hired pest control services. Three months later, previous pest control services had no effect. Tenant notified landlord. Tennant hired own pest control services. Pest problem going down. Today, water heater caught fire and now needs replaced. Cause of fire is most likely the roaches. Can Tennant break lease legally and without reprocussions or have rental payment returned?

Answer: The Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (ARLTA) requires a tenant to “keep that part of the premises that he occupies and uses as clean and safe as the condition of the premises permit” and to “dispose from his dwelling unit all ashes, rubbish, garbage and other waste in a clean and safe manner” (A.R.S. 33-1341) while the landlord must “comply with the requirements of applicable building codes materially affecting health and safety”; “make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition”; and “keep all common areas of the premises in a clean and safe condition” (A.R.S. 33-1324). Given that an “infestation of insects, vermin or rodents” is considered to be condition materially affecting health and safety (A.R.S. 9-1303), as a general rule pest control is the landlord’s responsibility so long as the problem is not the result of some act or omission on the part of the tenant. If the infestation is a serious one, a tenant who wishes to terminate the rental agreement because their landlord has violated the obligation to “maintain fit premises” is permitted by the ARLTA to deliver a written notice to the landlord identifying the violation and stating that the rental agreement will terminate ten days after receipt of the notice if the violation is not fixed within ten days (or, if the problem is materially affecting the tenant’s health and safety, that the rental agreement will terminate five days after receipt of the notice if the violation is not fixed within five days) (A.R.S. 33-1361(A)). A tenant who wishes to terminate a rental agreement on these grounds should document carefully both the condition of the dwelling (with photographs or video and witnesses) and the tenant’s attempts to notify the landlord of the problem, because if the landlord takes the tenant to court such evidence will be helpful.

QUESTIONS

  • Landlord was notified about roach problem. Landlord hired pest control services. Three months later, previous pest control services had no effect. Tenant notified landlord. Tennant hired own pest control services. Pest problem going down. Today, water heater caught fire and now needs replaced. Cause of fire is most likely the roaches. Can Tennant break lease legally and without reprocussions or have rental payment returned?

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