Currently, there are no specific mold laws on the books in the state of Arizona. But this does not mean that if you have mold, that you are completely unprotected.
For example, every state in the U.S. has certain laws that protect tenant’s rights concerning living in an inhabitable, safe and nuisance-free property. Water damage and mold can be considered unsafe and uninhabitable.
If you have experienced water damage that has caused mold growth, you have the right to request that your landlord repairs the water damage within a reasonable time as long as the damage was not caused by your own personal property such as a water bed or a fish tank leak etc. Leaky water pipes, roof leaks and or a leaky water heater etc. would be your landlord’s responsibility.
To be covered under Arizona tenant laws, you would need to inform your landlord in writing that the property has suffered water damage and mold growth and needs repair ASAP. It is best to send this letter via certified mail so you have records of your requests. If it’s not an emergency, your property owner will have between 14 and 30 days to acknowledge your request.
To go along with your request, you may want to perform a do it yourself (DIY) mold test or have a professional mold inspector come to your property to test for mold so you can prove that there is mold infestation issues that is or may affect your health. Mold Inspection Pro can help with our DIY mold test kits at this link or you can order a professional mold inspection by calling us at 855-786-6653 (MOLD)
If for some reason your landlord ignores and or refuses to fix the damage, then you may have legal remedy by filing a lawsuit. This is where your mold test will come in very handy and we recommend that if you do plan on filing a lawsuit that you have your property professionally inspected rather than using a DIY mold test.
For example, in 2009, a Phoenix jury has awarded $3.3 million to a woman who blamed her mold exposure and related illnesses on her landlord’s negligence in failing to make timely repairs for water leaks which caused mold permeated her building.(Minium v. Pillar Communities LLC, et al., No. CV2004-014906 (Ariz. Super. Ct., Maricopa Cty.).
According to court documents, her health deteriorated significantly by 2002, and as she got sicker, she spent more time in her apartment.
The building was rife with several types of toxic molds, possibly as a result of pipes that were not properly connected and drained, according to her court pleadings.
She sued the apartment complex for failing to maintain the premises in a condition fit for human occupation.
Minium learned about the mold infestation from her neighbors, and her doctors told her that her illness was consistent with toxic mold exposure, so she left the apartment and moved into a hotel.
Then the apartment managers conducted tests, determined the extent of the infestation and performed remediation on the affected apartments.
Minium did not return, and she claimed that she was never able to recover personal belongings left in the apartment when she moved out, including family heirlooms. And she claimed her health was permanently impaired.”
If you are considering sending a letter to your landlord and or legal action, it is important that you understand the state laws. The Arizona Department of Housing says this about your tenant rights and tenant vs. landlord disputes:
“The Residential Landlord and Tenant Act that pertains to standard rental housing was enacted to govern the rental of dwelling units and the rights and obligations of landlord and tenant. The document can be downloaded for free. There is currently no state agency that enforces provisions in the Act, and because most landlord/tenant relations are private transactions, disputes that arise between landlord and tenants are generally considered private matters.”
A landlord is required to do the following under Arizona law. A.R.S. §§ 33-1322 – 1324.
Provide the tenant with the name and address of the property’s owner and manager
Provide the tenant with a free copy of the Arizona Landlord and Tenant Act
Provide the tenant with a signed copy of the lease
Provide the tenant with possession of the residence
Comply with applicable building codes
Make necessary repairs so that the residence is habitable
Keep common areas clean
Maintain all electrical, plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning equipment
Provide for the removal of trash
Supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water
33-1324. Landlord to maintain fit premises
A. The landlord shall:
1. Comply with the requirements of applicable building codes materially affecting health and safety as prescribed in section 9-1303.
2. Make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition.
3. Keep all common areas of the premises in a clean and safe condition.
Article 4 – Remedies
33-1361. Noncompliance by the landlord
A. Except as provided in this chapter, if there is a material noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement, including a material falsification of the written information provided to the tenant, the tenant may deliver a written notice to the landlord specifying the acts and omissions constituting the breach and that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than ten days after receipt of the notice if the breach is not remedied in ten days.
If there is a noncompliance by the landlord with section 33-1324 materially affecting health and safety, the tenant may deliver a written notice to the landlord specifying the acts and omissions constituting the breach and that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than five days after receipt of the notice if the breach is not remedied in five days.
Do you need legal help?
If you need help in dealing with a landlord or breaking a lease, you can try contacting the Arizona Tenants Advocates & Association. This is a nonprofit organization that provides guidance to renters who are experiencing difficulties getting repairs done, need to break their leases, and have questions regarding other landlord-tenant issues.
Arizona Tenants Advocates & Association membership is open to any person living in Arizona, subject to the restrictions outlined here. Once a member, you or any of your householders are entitled to free consultations for the duration of the membership.
You can call the association at 480-557-8905 and or visit their website @ http://www.arizonatenants.com/
There is also the Community Legal Services (CLS) which is dedicated to providing legal assistance, advice or representation; self-help materials and legal education so people can know their rights. We focus on helping survivors of domestic violence; assisting victims of consumer fraud and abuse; protecting tenants from unlawful/unfair practices by landlords; foreclosures; legal problems affecting agricultural workers, wage claims and other employment matters; and federal and state programs affecting peoples’ health and economic stability.
You can contact them at 800 852-9075 or visit their website @ http://www.clsaz.org/index.html
SOURCES:AZ Residential Landlord and Tenant Act - Revised July 3 2015