questions & answers
Question: The apartment complex has not had gas for over a year what should we do?
Answer: Under the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (A.R.S. Title 33 Chapter 10), landlords are required (among other things) to “make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition” and “maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and other facilities and appliances […] supplied or required to be supplied by him” (A.R.S. 33-1324). If, according to the rental agreement, the landlord of an apartment building has a duty to provide gas to the tenants of the building, but fails to do so, then the landlord is in violation of the landlord’s legal obligations (A.R.S. 33-1364). In such situations, a tenant is advised to provide the landlord with formal written notice of the problem, by delivering to the landlord – either by hand or by certified mail – a signed and dated letter describing the problem in detail and requesting that the landlord fix it as soon as possible. It is always recommended that tenants keep careful records of all their correspondence with their landlords. If, after a reasonable period of time has passed since the landlord received the tenant’s letter, the landlord does nothing to fix the problem, the tenant will want to be able to prove (to a court of law, if necessary) that the tenant made formal requests of the landlord. If, after a reasonable period of time, the landlord does nothing to provide the gas or other services that the landlord has a duty to provide under the rental agreement, then the tenant has several options. If the tenant wishes to terminate the lease and move out of the dwelling, then the tenant may deliver to the landlord a second written notice identifying the problem and stating that if the problem is not fixed within 10 days after the landlord receives this notice then the rental agreement will terminate (A.R.S. 33-1361). If the tenant wishes to continue to rent the dwelling, then the tenant may (1) sue the landlord in court for gas service (A.R.S. 33-1361) or (2) do any of the following: “1. Procure reasonable amounts of hot water, running water, heat and essential services during the period of the landlord's noncompliance and deduct their actual reasonable cost from the rent. If the landlord has failed to provide any of the utility services specified in this section due to nonpayment of the landlord's utility bill for the premises, and if there is no separate utility meter for each tenant in the premises such that the tenant could avoid a utility shutoff by arranging to have services transferred to the tenant's name, the tenant may either individually or collectively with other tenants arrange with the utility company to pay the utility bill after written notice to the landlord of the tenant's intent to do so. With the utility company's approval the tenant or tenants may pay the landlord's delinquent utility bill and deduct from any rent owed to the landlord the actual cost of the payment the tenant made to restore utility services. The tenant or tenants may continue to make such payments to the utility company until the landlord has provided adequate assurances to the tenant that the above utility services will be maintained. 2. Recover damages based upon the diminution in the fair rental value of the dwelling unit. 3. Procure reasonable substitute housing during the period of the landlord's noncompliance, in which case the tenant is excused from paying rent for the period of the landlord's noncompliance. In the event the periodic cost of such substitute housing exceeds the amount of the periodic rent, upon delivery by tenant of proof of payment for such substitute housing, tenant may recover from landlord such excess costs up to an amount not to exceed twenty-five per cent of the periodic rent which has been excused pursuant to this paragraph.” If you would like to speak with an attorney about your best options given your current situation, there are links to organizations offering free or low-cost legal services on this website.
The apartment complex has not had gas for over a year what should we do?
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