Now that spring is turning into summer, people are getting their pools ready. And as they do so, the pools attract mosquitoes. So what do you do if you live in an apartment either with a pool or near a pool, and have swarms of mosquitoes coming into your apartment?
It’s a tricky question. Unlike cockroaches, mosquitoes do not embed themselves inside buildings. The landlord does not have a responsibility – nor does he have the physical ability – to control the movement of mosquitoes outside the building. But if there is a mosquito infestation in your apartment, it is likely that you have defective window screens or other defective conditions that allow the mosquitoes to enter In such a case, the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, specifically, A.R.S. § 33-1324, requires the landlord to make the repair. Under A.R.S. § 33-1363, you may spend up to half your rent or $300, whichever is greater, to make the repair yourself and deduct the cost from next month’s rent. To do so you must first give the landlord a 10-day notice. You can send the notice by certified mail; it’s deemed delivered after five days if he refuses to sign for it, or you can text or email the notice. But that form of service only works if the landlord texts or emails you back; then you have proof that he received it. If the landlord does not make the repair within ten days, you can hire a licensed contractor to make the repair and include his bill with the reduced rent that you pay the following month. Make sure the contractor writes a statement releasing the landlord from liability for the cost of the repairs, called a Waiver of Lien.
If the condition causing the mosquito infestation is not a defective window screen, which is inexpensive to repair, but a structural problem with the building, the repair and deduct option may not work because the cost for the repair would be more than a half month’s rent. Under that circumstance, the options afforded by the landlord/tenant act are limited: you can take the landlord to court and sue him; you can call a city inspector and try to get a violation on record, or you can legally terminate your lease. Invoking the latter option is a complicated process and should not be invoked without the help of a professional.
Although the landlord/tenant act is designed to help tenants remedy their issues without having to take the landlord to court, properly effectuating these remedies requires the tenant to have very specific, technical knowledge of law and procedure. The Arizona Tenants Union is a membership-driven, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that advocates on behalf of tenants. If you are having repair problems in your apartment, visit us on our website, www.tenansunion.net, or call us at (602)652-2659.