When a landlord and tenant sign a lease, each is agreeing to abide by specific terms. The tenant promises to pay rent for a specified period, observe the lease terms, and take reasonable care of the property. The landlord agrees to provide the property in habitable condition and maintain it as needed. When something is wrong with a rental, and a landlord refuses to address the issue, the tenant is left to ask: My landlord won?t make repairs. What are my options?
As a tenant, you can rent a property or housing unit free from the burden of paying for property maintenance or taxes. In exchange, the landlord is supposed to keep the rental property in good working condition. When you have a significant issue such as a non-functioning stove or leaking water pipe inside your rental, it’s imperative that the landlord act promptly. When a landlord is non-responsive or refuses to make the necessary repairs, you could be left in untenable living conditions.
Is the Issue Actionable?
In Arizona, rental agreements are governed by the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (?the Act.?). The first issue to determine is if the Act applies to your problem.
Under the Act, your landlord is legally required to:
- ?Make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition;?
- Keep all common areas of the premises in a clean and safe condition;
- Maintain ?all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by [the landlord]? in ?good and safe working order and condition;?
- ?[P]rovide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences for the removal of ashes, garbage, rubbish and other waste incidental to the occupancy of the dwelling unit and arrange for their removal;? and
- ensure there is running water and that the tenant has “reasonable amounts of hot water at all times? and, outside of certain types of dwellings, ?reasonable heat and air-conditioning or cooling where such units are installed and offered when required by seasonal weather conditions.
In addition to the obligations imposed by the Act, cities and towns may have enacted specific ordinances that impose additional requirements on a landlord.
If the issue is related to the landlord’s required responsibilities under the Act or a local ordinance, your landlord must make all necessary repairs. There can be an exception from some of the landlord?s obligations under the Act when the landlord and tenant agree the tenant will make certain repairs. However, these agreements must be entered into in good faith and not just as a subterfuge for a landlord attempting to avoid fulfilling their responsibilities.
Breach of the Lease
If the landlord fails to repair an issue that they are obligated to fix, they may be in ?material noncompliance? or breach of the rental agreement.? Under these circumstances, the tenant may have grounds to send notice of the violation to the landlord, advising them that the lease will terminate if the problem is not addressed in ten days.? If the issue pertains to the tenant?s health or safety, the tenant may be able to give the landlord a five-day notice instead of ten. In extreme circumstances, the tenant can withhold rent if the landlord has failed to make the property habitable. Otherwise, tenants must continue paying rent despite the landlord?s breach.
When a landlord fails to make repairs, it can be challenging to assess what qualifies as a breach. By consulting with an experienced real estate attorney, you can evaluate your circumstances and learn more about your options under the law. Your real estate counsel will be able to explain the most appropriate remedies for your situation and help advocate for your interests.
Laura B. Bramnick is an Arizona real estate attorney with the knowledge and experience you need to protect your interests during every stage of your commercial real estate matter. If you are seeking an exceptional, client-driven real estate lawyer in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Sedona, and throughout the State of Arizona, contact Laura B. Bramnick to schedule your consultation.