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Can Landlord and Tenant Create a Maintenance Deal?

Question: We are negotiating a one-year lease for a North Phoenix home. The landlord wants us to be responsible for maintaining the heating and air-conditioning systems in the home. The landlord is willing to reduce the rent by $200 per month. Can we agree with the landlord to be responsible for maintaining the home in exchange for this $200 reduction in the rent?

Answer: Probably. A landlord is required to maintain the premises in a fit and habitable condition.  This requirement includes having to keep all heating and air-conditioning systems in working order.  The landlord and tenant in the rental of a home (or an apartment) can generally agree in writing that the tenant will do this maintenance for the landlord if the tenant receives a reasonable reduction in the rent.

Note: A landlord can only enter maintenance agreements in good faith.  These agreements cannot be used to evade the landlord’s requirement to maintain the premises in a fit and habitable condition.  Therefore, a maintenance agreement to maintain the heating and air-conditioning systems after the heating and air-conditioning systems have already failed would probably not be enforceable and the landlord would be required to fix that failed system.  See A.R.S. §33-1324(D).

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