Tenant help: How to get out of your lease

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- A single Valley mother wants out of her lease, after she found problem after problem at her apartment. But she wasn't sure about the best way to get out of her lease.

That woman lives in the Woodbridge Apartment complex, where tenants have had troubles in the past. But breaking the lease can be a tough and risky task. But we found out there are other things you can do if you're having problems with your rented unit.

Myesha Williams said since moving in a couple of months ago, she’s struggled with a clogged sink, the broken oven, bed bugs, and no AC or heater.

Single Valley mom hopes management fixes apartment issues

The shower head is also missing, so Williams said she and her five kids haven't been able to take a shower here. She also said the complex hasn't fixed the issues, despite her repeated calls.

"I’m just tired of it, honestly,” said Williams.

Williams now wants out of her lease, but there is a risk that the company can go after Williams for breaking her lease. So the City of Phoenix landlord tenant counseling team recommends that Williams  keep proper documentation.

"It is a process, and documentation is important. Those kinds of things are really important,” said a counselor.

Williams is told if she can prove the landlord didn't fix health and safety issues within a certain time frame, she can be protected.

“Some of these issues here are pretty much health and safety issues: lack of heating and AC. Landlord is responsible for providing that service to you," said the counselor.

First though, Williams has to make sure she has written proof that she requested maintenance using a certain form.

She needs to submit a form via certified mail or hand deliver it to the landlord requesting the maintenance.

"That is a peace of mind that I can do something to take action about what's going on," said Williams.

If the landlord doesn't comply, before breaking her lease, the counselor said Williams can take the issue back to the city where someone on the code compliance team can investigate.

This apartment complex has had noncompliance issues before.

“We issued some citations and some court actions. We received a judgment from the court fining them approximately $3 million, which gave them 90 days to come to compliance,” said Patrick Ravenstein, the city’s code compliance manager. “Since that judgment, the owners of Woodbridge have been working very diligently at getting the repairs done. They’ve hired three contractors and since that time have been working pretty closely with our staff to bring the property into compliance.”

Ravenstein said they’ve had to board up some apartments at the complex until the owners fix the issues there.

“We haven’t received any new complaints of interior violations, but as they do come in after they’ve provided the notice, then we go out and do the inspection and make sure that the repairs are done correctly,” said Ravenstein.

The manager of Woodbridge Apartments claimed she wasn’t aware of Williams' issues with the apartment.

She said she will be sending the maintenance team to check it out.

If you need help with issues where you are renting, there is free help at the City of Phoenix Neighborhood Services department.

They accept walk-ins at 200 W. Washington St., on the fourth floor.

City business hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for major holidays.

You can also call: 602-534-4444 or email landlord.tenant.nsd@phoenix.gov.