What to do if my landlord is basically ignoring extensive water damage to my rental home?

UPDATED: Oct 11, 2011

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What to do if my landlord is basically ignoring extensive water damage to my rental home?

I rent a 2-story home. About a week ago, an upstairs water line broke and flooded the home in the bathroom and adjacent bedroom, closet and downstairs into the bathroom, kitchen, and garage. The damage is extensive in that the side of the home has a large crack down it; the carpeting and flooring is damaged and the downstairs ceiling is cracked, bowing, and/or has large gaping holes. The landlord was promptly notified and he sent out someone to “assess” the situation. Since then, they have vacuumed the water from the carpets. Nothing else. The house now smells of mold and my son can’t breathe.

Asked on October 11, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Arizona


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You may have several options here. The fact is that residential leases contain what is called an an implied "warranty of habitability". Essentially, this is a guarantee that gives a landlord gives a tenant to live in a clean and safe premises (i.e. "habitable" premises). Accordingly, if a landlord fails to perform needed maintenance or necessary repairs, a tenant can: 

  1. Repair the problem and then deduct if from their rent;
  2. Terminate the lease and vacate the premises; or
  3. Withhold rent until the completion of the repair(s). 

However, before pursuing any of these self-help measuresan attorney should be consulted.  Failure to follow proper legal procedures result in a tenant being held financially liable.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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