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Water at daughter's rental house is on private well. Water turned brown and smells like sewer. Landlord says buy bottled water.

Scottsdale, AZ |

Cannot use water for washing, bathing or drinking. Landlord says it is a well, so nothing he will do. Water has been making daughter very ill. She has withheld payment for this month rent and notified him of problem. He has told her to move by Friday. She may have serious medical condition because of the water. What do we do. She has no money for deposits to move at this time.

Attorney Answers 5


  1. In every lease there is an implied warranty of habitability, which requires a landlord to ensure the health and safety of his tenants. Things like electricity, water, working heat or air conditioning are things typically included in this covenant of habitability.

    Thus, your landlord has an obligation that your daughter has useable, potable water. In some states you can withhold rent until the landlord makes repairs. In other states, you can file a rent escrow action where a court will require the landlord to make the repairs. Information on what Arizona requires can be found here:

    http://www.arizonatenants.com/rentcycle.htm

    Look at Section number 3, which details that a landlord must provide essential services.

    If your daughter has a lease, then your landlord cannot arbitrarily require her to up and move, either. Certain notice has to be given. At the very least, in a month to month tenancy your daughter would have 30 days.

    Consult a local landlord/tenant attorney for guidance on how to handle this situation.

    DISCLAIMER: Brandy A. Peeples is licensed to practice law in the State of Maryland. This answer is being provided for informational purposes only and the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice relating to your specific situation, I strongly urge you to consult with an attorney in your area. NO COMMUNICATIONS WITH ME ARE TO BE CONSTRUED AS ARISING FROM AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP AND NO ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP WILL BE ESTABLISHED WITH ME UNLESS I HAVE EXPRESSLY AGREED TO UNDERTAKE YOUR REPRESENTATION, WHICH INCLUDES THE EXECUTION OF A WRITTEN AGREEMENT OF RETAINER.


  2. Excellent advice from Attorney Peeples. I echo the advice to find a Landlord Tenant lawyer IMMEDIATELY!

    If you are in Massachusetts, my answering of your question does not constitute an attorney/client relationship and are for informational purposes only. If you wish to contact me to discuss your question further I offer a 30 minute free consultation and can be reached at 413-522-6263. If you are not in Massachusetts I am not giving you legal advice as I am not licensed in your state and my comments should be viewed as for informational purposes only.


  3. I agree with my colleagues, drinking water is a fundamental aspect of living in a rental unit. However, withholding rent is not a good response in that it provides the landlord with a basis to evict. You should talk to a lawyer right away. Good luck.

    I have been licensed to practice in the State of Oregon since 1990. I am not offering legal advice regarding your question, only general information regarding the law. You are not my client nor am I your attorney unless we sign a retainer agreement.


  4. Under the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, there is material noncompliance by this landlord with the rental agreement affecting health and safety (ARS 33-1361) . If she has not already, your daughter needs to make the landlord aware of this in writing. She should state that unless he repairs the situation within 5 days, the rental agreement will terminate. Your daughter additionally may recover damages. The landlord also is required to return her security deposit upon termination.

    With respect to the five-day notice from the landlord, your daughter is entitled to a hearing on the landlord's forcible detainer action. She should notify the landlord in writing about the problem as outlined above prior to the hearing and be prepared to argue her case before the justice court judge.


  5. All the answers to this point are good ones. All I want to add is that you should under no circumstances go to the eviction hearing unrepresented. The reason is that Arizona Justice Court judges are a problem for tenants. They have listened to whining, irrational tenants forever, so their initial assumption will be that you're the same. Also, they have not been trained in the law and the little law they think they "know" has come from the landlord attorneys they see every week. See a lawyer.

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