When you think of maintaining a rental unit the bulk of what most people consider “maintenance” falls on the landlord. However, in all states there are maintenance responsibilities for the landlord and the tenant that are outlined in the lease. A breach of those responsibilities may result in damages or termination of the rental agreement.
The landlord’s responsibilities are basically to provide a safe and habitable rental unit, with any amenities that are included to be in working condition. The specific, legal responsibilities for maintenance by the landlord include:
- 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;
- keep all common areas in a clean and safe condition;
- maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and other facilities and appliances, including elevators;
- provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences for the removal of ashes, garbage, rubbish and other waste and arrange for their removal; and
- supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times, reasonable heat and reasonable air conditioning or cooling.
In addition, Arizona law specifies the choices that a tenant has if the landlord deliberately or negligently fails to supply running water, gas, electrical service, and reasonable amounts of hot water or heat, air-conditioning or cooling. The tenant must give reasonable notice to the landlord specifying the breach and then has the following options:
- Procure reasonable amounts of hot water, running water, heat and essential services and deduct their actual reasonable cost from the rent.
- Recover damages based upon the diminution in the fair rental value of the premises.
- Procure reasonable substitute housing during the period of landlord’s noncompliance, and the tenant is excused from paying rent while in substitute housing.
Every lease will have the standard language about the tenant’s responsibilities in general: “Tenant shall not destroy, deface, damage, impair or remove any part of the Premises or surrounding property, nor permit any person under Tenant’s direction or control to do so.” There are some other specific maintenance responsibilities for the tenant to comply with in Arizona:
- comply with all obligations by applicable provisions of building codes materially affecting health and safety;
- keep the premises as clean and safe as conditions permit;
- dispose of all ashes, rubbish, garbage and other waste in a clean and safe manner;
- keep all plumbing fixtures in the premises as clean as their condition permits;
- use in a reasonable manner all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators in the premises;
- abide by proper conduct and ensure that anyone on the premises with the consent of the tenant do the same;
- promptly notify the landlord in writing of any situation or occurrence that requires the landlord to provide maintenance or make repairs or otherwise requires action by the landlord.
In a case of noncompliance by the tenant which affects health and safety, the tenant has 14 days after written notice by the landlord of the breach (or sooner if an emergency situation) to remedy the situation. If not remedied, the landlord may is allowed to cause the work to be done in a workmanlike manner and submit an itemized bill for the cost or the fair and reasonable value of the work as rent on the next date when rent is due. If the rental agreement has terminated the landlord can demand immediate payment.