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  1. #1
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    Aug 2015
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    Default Is a Tenant Responsible for the Cost of Pool Repair

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: Arizona

    We rent a home through a property management company. The issue at hand is the pool motor went out for our pool in the backyard. We reported this issue 2 months ago to the property management. They initially tell us its the owners responsibility and that to go through the warranty company to get it fixed. We did that, however the owners let the warranty coverage lapse, so when they renewed it, the warranty company claims now the pool motor issue is a pre-existing issue and refuses to cover it. So we let the property management know and nothing was done for 2 months. During that time the water turned green because the pump wont work and no one is getting back to us about getting this fixed. Fast forward to yesterday, the owner of the property management just shows up unannounced to the house and claims we are responsible for repairing the pool. He had a copy of the lease and was trying to hand it to us while saying we had to pay for it, spouting off prices. I told him we are not responsible and asked him to leave the property. In a follow up email I tell him through the lease the lessor is responsible for all repairs of the mechanical parts of the pool, so we are not responsible. He replied back stating that we neglected our duty to keep the pool water clean, and now the city could fine us for green water and they are forced to send someone out to fix the pool motor, but that we the tenants will be responsible for paying to get it fixed. However the lease says that the lessor will make repairs in a timely manner so that stuff like this wont happen. I told him if they plan to charge us, then to not send anyone out because we are not responsible. But again he keeps saying we are responsible for the repair. Below is the paragraph he is referring to in the lease. Can anyone confirm what I'm seeing? That the lessor is responsible for the repair of the pool in a timely manner? I plan to talk to a lawyer, but wanted to ask your thoughts. Here is the part of the lease the property management highlights saying this says we are responsible for fixing the pool motor.

    Lessee will keep and maintain the premises and property, including all appurtenances, at their own expense, including but not limited to keeping the swimming pool in like condition and repair as at the commencement of the lease, and will be responsible for any damages, with the exception of normal wear and tear.

    But there is no damage to the motor, we were told the motor is old and just stopped working. Also the motor would need to be replaced.

    However, a couple of lines down it says this:

    Lessor will be responsible for repairs to the following items; heating and cooling units, major plumbing and leak problems, ALL MECHANICAL POOL PARTS, dishwashers, ranges and ovens, refrigerators, and water heaters.

    I also want to point out when we initially moved in the pool was disgusting and not even usable. We had to come out of pocket to get it fixed, the property management eventually reimbursed us, and the pool was not usable until 2 weeks after we moved in.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Is a Tenant Responsible for the Cost of Pool Repair

    Quote Quoting silly2988
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    Can anyone confirm what I'm seeing? That the lessor is responsible for the repair of the pool in a timely manner?
    The first clause you quote refers to the lessee (you).
    Quote Quoting silly2988
    Lessee will keep and maintain the premises and property, including all appurtenances, at their own expense, including but not limited to keeping the swimming pool in like condition and repair as at the commencement of the lease, and will be responsible for any damages, with the exception of normal wear and tear.
    Quote Quoting silly2988
    But there is no damage to the motor, we were told the motor is old and just stopped working.
    That's damage -- but it's damage resulting from ordinary wear and tear.

    The second clause refers to the lessor (your landlord):
    Quote Quoting silly2988
    Lessor will be responsible for repairs to the following items; heating and cooling units, major plumbing and leak problems, ALL MECHANICAL POOL PARTS, dishwashers, ranges and ovens, refrigerators, and water heaters.
    The motor is a mechanical pool part. If the lease makes the lessor responsible for replacing the motor, then you're not responsible for the cost. As a general rule (a) any ambiguity in a contract is construed in favor of the party that did not write the contract, and (b) when a contract contains both a general clause and a specific clause governing the same matter, the specific clause is to be applied.

  3. #3
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    Jun 2015
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    Default Re: Is a Tenant Responsible for the Cost of Pool Repair

    I too read the quotes in context that it is LL/Lessors duty to repair the pool pump/motor and that the specific clause governs

    Further that the tenant may have a hefty counter claim against the LL/Lessor for substantial reduction in use of the premises for the entire period the pool is unfit for use.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Is a Tenant Responsible for the Cost of Pool Repair

    Or not.

    The pool is a nice amenity, but it's malfunction does not materially affect the habitability or use and enjoyment of the premises.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Is a Tenant Responsible for the Cost of Pool Repair

    But isnt it a health hazard that because they refuse to repair the pool we cannot keep it clean, there for the pool water turns green, mosquitoes now are there, which is a health hazard, and we risk the city fining us for a green pool. Side note, I just got back from the lawyers office. They said I would need to send an official letter to the property management giving them 10 days to repair it, else I either pay it out of pocket and deduct from rent or I reserve the right to break the lease and move out. They said it would not be financially beneficial to sue them at this point. Though I never thought to sue them, I just want them to fix the pool and reimburse me for the out of pocket cost of paying for a hotel when the A/C went out and it took a week for them to get someone to fix it.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Is a Tenant Responsible for the Cost of Pool Repair

    If green water is a building code or health code violation you might also consider a formal written complaint to any relevant enforcement agency. At least as you post it its LL/lessors job to keep the property up to code

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Is a Tenant Responsible for the Cost of Pool Repair

    Yes, in Arizona due to the west nile virus threat they now have a city ordinance or whatever you call it that any pool that turns green is subject to a fine of $1000 by the city. It is considered a health violation. We have photos proving we maintained the pool very well up until the pool motor went out 2 months ago. The backyard is very beautiful and the water is a crystal clear.

  8. #8
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    Jun 2015
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    988

    Default Re: Is a Tenant Responsible for the Cost of Pool Repair

    Pay keen attention to the rules as to repair and deduct..it is a limited remedy ..and capped pretty low [

    What was once a simple pump/motor repair/replace may now be 5X ...
    And the last homeowner role,where I played a bit part on a pump motor service call was several thousand $ for a simple 3 hp pump/motor by the time it was over.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Is a Tenant Responsible for the Cost of Pool Repair

    Quote Quoting silly2988
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    Yes, in Arizona due to the west nile virus threat they now have a city ordinance or whatever you call it that any pool that turns green is subject to a fine of $1000 by the city.
    And the fine would be assessed against the property owner.

    The possibility of mosquitoes breeding in your pool is not even close to the same thing as your premises being uninhabitable. If the pool actually becomes infested with mosquitoes, insect infestation is statutorily defined as a violation of a landlord's duties, A.R.S. Sec. 9-3103.

    Going back to the pool, based on what you have told us the landlord has a duty to repair the pool under the lease, and the lease language supports your position that the landlord should pay for the repair. He is thus violating his statutory duty to make repairs, including keeping the pool in sufficient repair that it is fit for use:
    Quote Quoting A.R.S. Sec. 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.

    4. Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by him.

    5. Provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences for the removal of ashes, garbage, rubbish and other waste incidental to the occupancy of the dwelling unit and arrange for their removal.

    6. Supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times, reasonable heat and reasonable air-conditioning or cooling where such units are installed and offered, when required by seasonal weather conditions, except where the building that includes the dwelling unit is not required by law to be equipped for that purpose or the dwelling unit is so constructed that heat, air-conditioning, cooling or hot water is generated by an installation within the exclusive control of the tenant and supplied by a direct public utility connection.

    B. If the duty imposed by subsection A, paragraph 1 of this section is greater than any duty imposed by any other paragraph of this section, the landlord's duty shall be determined by reference to that paragraph.

    C. The landlord and tenant of a single family residence may agree in writing, supported by adequate consideration, that the tenant perform the landlord's duties specified in subsection A, paragraphs 5 and 6 of this section, and also specified repairs, maintenance tasks, alterations and remodeling, but only if the transaction is entered into in good faith, not for the purpose of evading the obligations of the landlord and the work is not necessary to cure noncompliance with subsection A, paragraphs 1 and 2 of this section.

    D. The landlord and tenant of any dwelling unit other than a single family residence may agree that the tenant is to perform specified repairs, maintenance tasks, alterations or remodeling only if:

    1. The agreement of the parties is entered into in good faith and not for the purpose of evading the obligations of the landlord and is set forth in a separate writing signed by the parties and supported by adequate consideration.

    2. The work is not necessary to cure noncompliance with subsection A, paragraphs 1 and 2 of this section.

    3. The agreement does not diminish or affect the obligation of the landlord to other tenants in the premises.
    Given that violation, you have the possibility of a self-help remedy, depending on the cost of repair:
    Quote Quoting A.R.S. Sec. 33-1363. Self-help for minor defects
    A. If the landlord fails to comply with section 33-1324, and the reasonable cost of compliance is less than three hundred dollars, or an amount equal to one-half of the monthly rent, whichever amount is greater, the tenant may recover damages for the breach under section 33-1361, subsection B, or may notify the landlord of the tenant's intention to correct the condition at the landlord's expense. After being notified by the tenant in writing, if the landlord fails to comply within ten days or as promptly thereafter as conditions require in case of emergency, the tenant may cause the work to be done by a licensed contractor and, after submitting to the landlord an itemized statement and a waiver of lien, deduct from his rent the actual and reasonable cost of the work, not exceeding the amount specified in this subsection.

    B. A tenant may not repair at the landlord's expense if the condition was caused by the deliberate or negligent act or omission of the tenant, a member of the tenant's family or other person on the premises with the tenant's consent or if the condition repaired does not constitute a breach of the fit and habitable condition of the premises.

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