Proper Rental Home Maintenance to Keep You Out of Court

by Rebbeca Binder on November 30, 2013

  • Sumo

Landlords should always be aware of specific rental laws in all states in which they own rental property. Leasing rental property is not as simple as allowing tenants to use the structure. There are basic requirements with respect to health and safety, which also includes reasonable property upkeep.

Equipment on the property should be kept in operable condition where needed and access to running water should also be supplied. Landlords are not required to provide utilities other than the ability to connect in appropriate situations, such as a dwelling space.

Leases as Legal Defense

A lease or documented rental agreement does little to eliminate legal standing for the tenant to sue in situations of negligence. Requiring a possible tenant to sign a waiver of their rights is not exactly legal, especially in clearly breached cases involving reasonable duty of care. Courts can declare contracts invalid and coercive if the primary purpose of the lease is eliminating legal responsibilities for the landlord. Merely allowing a tenant to occupy the space is not necessarily true legal consideration, and all valid contracts contain consideration for all contracting agents.

State Regulations

All states have their own statutes setting forth landlord responsibility on this issue, some more strict than others. Arizona is clearly one of these states; maintaining building codes is required of all landlords, especially those with respect to health and safety. Premises and rental units should be clean and in good repair. Heaters, air conditioners, and waste disposals should all be operable, including access to sanitary running water. Injuries associated with failure to provide adequate repairs or property upkeep could easily establish negligence on the part of the property owner, resulting in a valid legal claim by a tenant.

Tenant Rights

Arizona also has a very strict legal recourse statute for rental tenants, as the landlord only has five days to repair a reported damage claim until the lease or rental agreement is terminated. Termination of a lease may not be in the landlord’s interest when the case goes to court, as legal remedies can include an injunction by the court to keep the property unoccupied until the repairs are completed. The landlord is responsible for damages suffered because of any needed repairs, and evicting the tenant could result in a relocation damage award to the plaintiff tenant. Additional fines can also be included in serious cases.

Alternate Rental Agreements

Agreements between tenants and landlords allowing the tenant to perform repair work to the property are legal and enforceable in most instances, but responsibilities not specifically stated in the agreement revert to original ‘duty of care responsibilities’ for the landlord. The terms of any tenant repair agreement should be defined in writing with little grey legal area. Also, repairs to electrical and plumbing services should be performed by a licensed professional to avoid code violations.

Sadly, too many property owners attempt avoiding legal compliance and the result is often disaster, such as a fire. Even something as simple as failure to repair tree limbs can result in an expensive lawsuit. Sometimes an exit strategy with a reputable cash out company like might be the best choice, particularly in the case of out of state landlords who can easily lose control of the situation, and consequently see their homes fall into severe disrepair.


Rebbeca Binder

Rebbeca Binder

Rebecca Binder is a stay-at-home mom to two daughters. She has been a freelance writer for five years and enjoys writing on topics relating to law and consumer information. Aside from her writing and family, her hobbies include playing piano and fitness.
Rebbeca Binder

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