Tenants may be able to deduct repairs from rent if landlords don't act quick enough

PHOENIX - Broken air conditioners and no hot water are common complaints when it comes to rentals. But what can you do when you just want your appliances to work properly?

Shana in Phoenix let ABC15's Joe Ducey know that the gas stove in her apartment "has been running very inconsistent." She says maintenance "replaced one knob on the stove and said it was fixed." Still, she says the oven won't heat to 400 "unless there is a cast iron griddle propped against the exhaust in the back".

No, it's not a life or death situation, but you still deserve appliances and an apartment that works properly.

Arizona state law has rules about what you can do about it.

The "self-help for minor defects" law allows tenants to pay for repairs and deduct the actual costs from from the rent. But there are some very specific rules you have to follow: 

First, notify the landlord of the problem and your intention to deduct rent for fixing it in writing. Send your letter certified with signature confirmation. The law says they've got 10 days to comply. If they don't, you can have a licensed contractor do the work. You must give the landlord an itemized statement and waiver of lien--only then can you deduct from rent the cost of the repair. That number can't go above $300 or half the monthly rent---whichever is greater.

Of course, this only works if you have the actual cash to fix the problem. But the law also allows you to sue the landlord for damages, which you can do yourself for a minimal cost in small claims court. Just make sure you have all of your documentation to prove that you followed the law.

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