Tenant's Right to Withhold Rent for Repairs in Arizona

Reasons Tenants Can Withhold Rent in Arizona

A landlord must keep his or her property in fit and habitable condition. If the landlord fails to maintain the property according to these standards, the tenant has rights. In Arizona, a tenant may be able to withhold rent until the necessary repairs are made. Here are the basics of the statute.

Landlord Responsibility to Maintain Premises

Under Arizona’s landlord tenant law, Statute 33-1324, a landlord has the responsibility of maintaining the property.

This includes:

  • Complying with all building codes which would affect the health and safety of the tenants.

 

  • Make all repairs necessary to keep the property in a fit and habitable condition.

 

  • Keep all common areas clean and safe.

 

  • Keep all electrical, plumbing, heating, air-conditioning and any other services, facilities or appliances supplied by the landlord in safe working condition.

 

  • Supply and maintain proper trash receptacles and arrange for their removal.

 

  • Supply running water. If utilities such as hot water, heat and air-conditioning are not the responsibility of the tenant, it is the landlord’s responsibility to supply reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable heat in cold weather and air conditioning, if the units are supplied by the landlord, when it is hot.

Mutually Agreed Upon Tenant Responsibilities

In single family homes, a landlord and tenant can mutually agree in writing that the tenant is responsible for certain maintenance, such as taking out the garbage or acquiring and maintaining utilities.

The tenant can also be responsible for certain repairs, maintenance or alterations if they have been agreed upon by both landlord and tenant.

A landlord and tenant can agree in writing that the tenant will be responsible for certain maintenance, repairs or alterations. Any agreed upon responsibilities cannot impact the landlord’s responsibilities to other tenants in the building.

A tenant also cannot be responsible for remedying health or safety violations at the property.

Tenant’s Self-Help for Minor Defects

If the landlord violates their responsibility to maintain a fit and habitable premises, and the cost to remedy the violation would be less than $300 or half of the monthly rent payment, whichever is greater, the tenant has two options:

1. Recover Damages and Obtain Injunctive Relief from a Court of Law.

2. Notify the landlord, in writing, that the tenant intends to remedy the problem at the expense of the landlord. The landlord has ten days, fewer in the case of an emergency, after receiving this written notification to address and/or fix the issue.

If ten days have passed, the tenant has the right to hire a licensed contractor to fix the problem. The tenant must then submit an itemized list to the landlord of the charges. The tenant can then deduct the amount of the repair from their monthly rent, but the amount cannot be more than the $300 or half of the monthly rent, whichever is greater.

Reasons Tenant Cannot Withhold or Deduct Rent

There are times when the tenant is legally not allowed to withhold rent or deduct the expense from their monthly rent. These include:

  • If the problem was caused by the deliberate act or the neglect of the tenant or members of the tenant’s family.

 

  • If the problem was caused by the deliberate act or the neglect of a guest or guests of the tenant.

 

  • If the problem does not constitute a violation of a fit and habitable premises.

Tenant’s Right for Landlord Breach in Supplying Utilities

If, according to the lease agreement, thelandlord is supposed to supply utilitiessuch as running water, gas, electricity, hot water, heat or air conditioning and deliberately or due to negligence, fails to do so, the tenant must give notice to the landlord that the landlord has breached their responsibility to supply utilities. The tenant has three options:

1. Obtain reasonable amounts of the utility that is not being supplied. The tenant can then deduct the actual cost of the utility from their monthly rental payment.

If the utility is not being supplied because the landlord failed to pay the utility bill, and there is not a separate meter on the property allowing the tenant to transfer the utility into their own name, then the tenant can notify the landlord in writing of the tenant’s intent to pay the landlord’s utility bill. Once the utility company approves, the tenant can pay the utility bill and deduct the expense from their monthly rent.

2. Recover damages based on the reduction in the fair market value of the rental due to lack of utility services.

3. The tenant can find substitute housing until the utilities are reinstated. The tenant is excused from paying their monthly rent during this time. If the cost of the substitute housing is more than the rental, the landlord will be responsible for reimbursing the tenant for the difference. The substitute housing, however, cannot be more than 25 percent more than the original rental price.

Damages:

The tenant may also be allowed to recover damages and reasonable court costs and attorney’s fees.

Deliberate or Negligent Acts:

If the lack of utility was caused by a deliberate or negligent act of the tenant, member of the tenant’s household or any guest of the tenant, then the tenant gives up their rights under this section.

Retaliatory Conduct Prohibited

A landlord is prohibited from taking retaliatory actions against the tenant due to a tenant’s complaint about the landlord’s failure to maintain “fit premises.” The tenant could be awarded up to two times actual damages or two times the monthly rent, whichever is greater and could recover possession of the unit if they have been wrongfully evicted.

Arizona Statutes on Withholding Rent

For the original text on the statutes governing rent withholding in Arizona, please consult Arizona Revised Statutes §§33-1363, 33-1364, 33-1365 and 33-1381.