Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

questions & answers

Question: What can be done about black mold in rental property resulting in tenants having to be hospitalized.Landlord not wanting to do anything to remove or make a safe & healthy livable dwelling?

Answer: Under Arizona law, and, in particular, the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (A.R.S. Title 33 Chapter 10), landlords are required to “maintain fit premises.” Landlords thus have a duty to “make all repairs and do whatever else may be necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition.” They must also “comply with the requirements of applicable building codes materially affecting health and safety” (A.R.S. 33-1324). Conditions materially affecting health and safety include (among many other things) inadequate sanitation; hazardous or unsanitary premises; inadequate maintenance; and unhealthy conditions (A.R.S. 9-1303). Whenever a tenant believes that a landlord is in violation of the landlord’s duties under Arizona law because the landlord is failing to “maintain fit premises,” the tenant is advised to write and deliver to the landlord a signed and dated letter describing the problem in detail and requesting that the landlord fix that problem as soon as is reasonably possible. The tenant should keep a copy of this letter (and all other correspondence with the landlord) for the tenant’s own records and also take time-stamped photos and/or video of the mold to serve as a documentary record. If, even after receiving this letter (citing “A.R.S. 33-1324”), the landlord still does nothing, then the tenant has various options, ranging from hiring someone to fix the problem if doing so will not be too expensive (A.R.S. 33-1363) to informing the landlord of the tenant’s intention to terminate the lease if the problem is not fixed within 5 days (A.R.S. 33-1361). Given that the mold appears to be affecting the building as a whole, you and the other tenants may wish to work together. If you would like to get legal advice from a lawyer, there are links to organizations offering free or low-cost legal services on this website. The LegalLEARN Helpline toll-free telephone number is 1-866-637-5341.

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