The Arizona Residential Landlord and 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 anything from hiring a contractor to fix a condition, renting an air conditioner throughout the duration of the problem, or paying an unpaid utility bill. 2) The tenant can recover damages based on the diminution of the value of the apartment. 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. 3) He may procure substitute housing during the period of the landlord’s noncompliance, during which time he is excused from paying rent. Additionally, if the cost of the substitute housing is greater than the rent, the tenant may recover 125% of the daily rent. It is important to note that the tenant must give specific notice before he invokes his remedies.
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 comes about suddenly. In the case of casualty damage, A.R.S. § 33-1366 gives tenants two options: 1) he may immediately vacate the apartment, in which case the lease terminates; or 2) he may vacate the unusable portion of the dwelling unit and pay a reduced rent commensurate with the reduced value of the apartment. In each case, the tenant has to give a 14 day notice after availing themselves of the remedies.