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Arizona Tenants Advocates » Blog Archive » TENANT REMEDIES FOR VERY SERIOUS CONDITIONS

TENANT REMEDIES FOR VERY SERIOUS CONDITIONS

The Arizona Residential Landlord & Tenant Act provides a number of remedies for tenants who are having repair issues. Many repairs can be effectuated simply by a tenant giving proper notice to the landlord and then using his rent money to make repairs. But there are two types of conditions which are so bad the landlord/tenant act puts them into their own categories.

The first category involves failure to deliver essential services. A.R.S. § 33-1324 generally requires a landlord to maintain the premises. But if he fails to provide heat, air conditioning, cooling, water, hot water or other essential services, the landlord-tenant act provides tenants with special rights.

Under A.R.S. § 33-1364 the tenant may do the following: (1) Procure the essential service and deduct the cost from the rent. This could mean, for example, renting an air conditioner throughout the duration of the problem; (2) With cooperation by the utility provider, pay a bill that is in arrears; (3) Recover damages based on the diminution of the value of the dwelling. It is important to note that the tenant may not withhold rent to do so; he must start a lawsuit in court asking for a rebate; and (4) Procure substitute housing during the period of the landlord’s noncompliance, during which time he is excused from paying rent. If the cost of the substitute housing is greater than the rent, the tenant may recover 125% of the daily rent.  Additionally, the landlord-tenant act punishes a malicious landlord whose noncompliance is deliberate by holding him liable for the cost of the substitute housing.

It is important to note that, for remedies under A.R.S. § 33-1364, before he invokes his remedies the tenant must only give prior notice of the deficiency, but it is NOT necessary to advise the landlord of which specific remedy is to be employed.

The other special category of damages anticipated by the landlord-tenant act is “casualty damage.”  Casualty damage is essentially a calamity:  a fire, a flood, a structural collapse, or some problem that substantially impairs the tenant’s enjoyment of the dwelling and comes about suddenly and/or is persisting.  In the case of casualty damage, A.R.S. § 33-1366 gives tenants two options: (1) Immediately vacate the apartment, in which case the lease terminates.  In this case, the tenant must terminate by way of notice within 14-day from the incident having occurred; or (2) Vacate the unusable portion of the dwelling unit and pay a reduced rent commensurate with the “diminution of the fair rental value of the dwelling unit.”

All of the above merely touches on the available remedies.  For more details, we highly recommend you read these articles in the Tenants Library section of the ATA website: (1) Utility of the Landlord-Tenant Act; (2) Stop the Rent Cycle - I Want to Disembark; and (3) Tenants Self-Help Repair aka Making Repairs to Your Dwelling.

- Ken Volk -

June 3, 2015

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