Section 33-1363(A) and (B) of the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act specifically address what a tenant must do prior to withholding rent from the landlord.
Section 33-1363(A) states in part: A tenant "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"...an amount less than three hundred dollars, or an amount equal to one-half of the monthly rent, whichever amount is greater.
Additionally Section 33-1363(B) states in part; "A tenant may not repair at the landlord's expense if...the condition repaired does not constitute a breach of the fit and habitable condition of the premises."
So to put this into plain English, before a tenant can legally withhold rent they must:
- Write the landlord and notify him of their intention to correct the condition at the landlord's expense;
- The tenant must give the landlord ten days to fix the problems outlined in the written notice;
- Give the landlord ten days to fix the problem before seeking any self-help solutions;
- Have the repairs completed by a licensed contractor;
- Submit the landlord with an itemized statement;
- Provide the landlord a waiver of lien;
- Deduct from their rent the actual and reasonable cost of the work;
- Not to exceed three hundred dollars, or half of the month rent, whichever is greater; and
- The repairs must constitute a breach of the fit and habitable condition of the premises.
Unless, and until a tenant has completed each of the steps noted above they cannot withhold rent from their landlord.