Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

questions & answers

Question: I have been living in a house since the end of May 2019 and when I came into the house there were many things wrong with it. Non functioning doors, windows, blinds, and several holes in the door that have been patched up with something that my son is allergic too and my youngest baby girl keeps picking at because its bubbly and she keeps eating it if I am not looking. I have asked them to repair several things since I have been here and they have not sent anyone and now are refusing to repair. The sink doesn't produce hot water upstairs. My toilet has been leaking. What can I do?

Answer: Under the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (ARLTA), a landlord is required by law to (among other things) “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 “maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and other facilities and appliances ... supplied or required to be supplied by him” (A.R.S. 33-1324). A tenant whose landlord is failing to meet the landlord’s obligations under A.R.S. 33-1324 is responsible first and foremost for providing 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 the problem be fixed as soon as reasonably possible. The tenant must do this regardless of whether the tenant ultimately wants to continue to live in the dwelling or leave. If the tenant wishes to terminate the rental agreement if the landlord fails to make the requested repairs, then the tenant is permitted by the ARLTA to deliver a written notice to the landlord identifying the repairs that the landlord must make under A.R.S. 33-1324 and stating that the rental agreement will terminate ten days after the landlord receives the notice if the repairs are not made 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 repairs are not made 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. The problems in need of repair must be serious ones. If the tenant wishes to continue to live in the dwelling rather than leave, the tenant may not simply withhold either all or part of their rent because the landlord has failed to make the required repairs (A.R.S. 33-1368(B)). The tenant may sue a landlord for monetary damages suffered by the tenant due to the landlord’s violation of A.R.S. 33-1324, but as a general rule the tenant still must pay full rent. However, there are exceptions – so long as the tenant follows the proper procedures. If, even after the landlord has received the tenant’s letter requesting required repairs, the landlord still fails to comply with the landlord’s obligations under A.R.S. 33-1324, then the tenant has several options, depending on the circumstances. The tenant may sue the landlord in court to recover any monetary losses suffered by the tenant (including the diminished value of the rent being paid by the tenant to the landlord) due to the landlord’s failure to make the required repairs (A.R.S. 33-1361(B)). If the cost of making the required repairs would be no more than an amount equal to one-half of the tenant’s monthly rent payment, then the tenant may notify the landlord in writing of the tenant’s intention to make the repairs at the landlord’s expense. If, even after being notified by the tenant in writing of the tenant’s intention to pay for the work then charge the landlord, the landlord still fails to comply within ten days or as promptly thereafter as conditions require in the case of an emergency, then the tenant may have the work “done by a licensed contractor and, after submitting to the landlord an itemized statement and a waiver of lien, deduct from the tenant’s rent the actual and reasonable cost of the work,” not exceeding either $300 or 1/2 of one month’s rent, whichever is greater (A.R.S. 33-1363(A)). This is just a general summary of some of the tenants’ rights described by the ARLTA. If any tenant would like to obtain legal advice from a lawyer, there are links to free and low-cost legal services on this website (at http://www.azlawhelp.org/accessToJustice).

QUESTIONS

  • I have been living in a house since the end of May 2019 and when I came into the house there were many things wrong with it. Non functioning doors, windows, blinds, and several holes in the door that have been patched up with something that my son is allergic too and my youngest baby girl keeps picking at because its bubbly and she keeps eating it if I am not looking. I have asked them to repair several things since I have been here and they have not sent anyone and now are refusing to repair. The sink doesn't produce hot water upstairs. My toilet has been leaking. What can I do?

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