The Landlord and Tenant Act provides that Landlord Must:

(1) make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to
put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable
condition;
(2) keep all common areas of the premises in a clean
and safe condition;31
(3) maintain in good and safe working order and
condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary,
heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen, and
other facilities and appliances, including elevators,
supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord;
(4) 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;
(5) supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot
water and heat at all times, insofar as energy conditions
permit, except where the building that includes
the dwelling unit is so constructed that heat or hot
29 AS 34.03.100(c).
30 AS 34.03.100(a).
31 Including the removal of snow and ice from
common areas. Coburn v. Burton, 790 P.2d 1355
(Alaska 1990). 22
water is generated by an installation within the
exclusive control of the tenant and supplied by a
direct public utility connection;
(6) if requested by the tenant, provide and maintain
locks and furnish keys reasonably adequate to ensure
safety to the tenant’s person and property; and
(7) provide smoke detection devices as required under
AS 18.70.095.
Examples of typical property maintenance duties which
may fall under these statutory provisions include the
landlord’s duty to maintain:
• doors, windows, roof, floors, walls and ceilings,
ensuring that they do not leak or have holes;
• plumbing that works, does not leak, and provides hot
and cold water at reasonable water pressure;
• a working, safe stove and oven;
• a reliable heating system which provides adequate heat
to all rooms;
• a safe electrical wiring system (with no loose or
exposed wires, sockets that do not spark and adequate
circuit breakers);
• windows or fans that provide fresh air;
• enough garbage cans or dumpsters to provide an
adequate and safe trash removal service;
• extermination service if roaches, rats, mice or other
pests infest the building, apartment or property;
• proper maintenance of any vacuum cleaners, washing
machines, dishwashers, etc., supplied by the landlord
(when not abused or broken by the tenant); and
• properly working smoke detectors.32
32 AS 18.70.095.
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Tenant remedies
If the landlord does not meet his or her responsibilities,
the law provides remedies for the tenant. The type of
remedies available depends on the type of noncompliance
by the landlord.
Remedies for Landlord’s noncompliance in
general
1) The tenant may move.33 If there is material
noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement
or a noncompliance with the Landlord and Tenant Act
which materially affect health and safety the tenant may
move. The tenant must first give the landlord written
notice describing the problem and stating that if the
problem is not fixed in 10 days from receipt of the notice,
the tenant will move in 20 days. If the problem is fixed
within 10 days the tenancy does not terminate. If the
tenant still wants to move, a regular 30-day notice is
required (in a month-to-month tenancy).
If the tenant notified the landlord in writing of a problem
and the landlord fixed it within the time allowed, but the
landlord allows substantially the same problem to occur
again within six months, the tenant may terminate the
agreement with a ten-day written notice without allowing
the landlord an opportunity to fix the problem. The notice
must specify the problem and the date of termination of
the tenancy.
If the rental agreement is terminated, the landlord must
return all prepaid rent or security deposits recoverable
by the tenant. Tenants may not terminate a rental
agreement for problems they themselves have caused.
2) The tenant may obtain damages or injunctive
relief.34 A tenant may sue in court for damages or
obtain injunctive relief for any noncompliance by the
33 AS 34.03.160(a).
34 AS 34.03.160(b).
with the rental agreement or for certain violations of
the Landlord and Tenant Act. If the total amount at
24
landlord issue is less than $7,500 the tenant may sue
for damages in small claims court. For larger claims,
or requests for injunctive relief, the tenant should see
an attorney.
Remedies for Landlord’s failure to supply
essential services
If the landlord deliberately or negligently fails to
supply an essential service (such as heat, water, sewer,
electricity or plumbing), the tenant has several other
alternative remedies. Prior to taking one of the
remedies a tenant must give the landlord a written
notice stating the problem and the remedy the tenant
plans to take.
1) The tenant may make repairs and deduct the cost
from rent. Once written notice is given to the landlord
stating that the tenant plans to do so the tenant may
get the problem fixed and deduct the actual and
reasonable expenses from the next month’s rent.35 (If
the repair is very expensive, it is a good idea to consult
with an attorney before taking this step.) The tenant
should retain receipts for all costs, and submit them to
the landlord for rent credit.
2) The tenant may procure reasonable substitute
housing. The tenant can give the landlord written
notice that he or she is moving into reasonable
substitute housing. The tenant is then excused from
paying rent until the problem is cured.
If the tenant has to pay more than his or her regular
rent to secure housing during this time, the tenant can
charge the landlord for the difference.36
3) The tenant may obtain damages. In some cases,
when the problem is really serious, it may reduce the
value of the dwelling. If this happens, the tenant may
sue, or in an action by the landlord for possession or
35 AS 34.03.180(a)(1).
36 AS 34.03.180(a)(3).
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rent, the tenant may counterclaim, to recover damages
against the landlord based on the diminution in the
fair rental value of the dwelling.37
Housing codes
The primary purpose of housing codes is to protect the
health and safety of the people who live in houses and
apartments.
A minimum standard of maintenance is set, making the
landlord (not the tenant) responsible for keeping rental
property in decent shape. (See: “Landlord Duties.”)
The law protects tenants who exercise their rights to
report code violations. If they call to complain and ask
for an inspection, the landlord cannot take revenge by
harassing them (i.e. threatening eviction).38
Alaska has a statewide fire code, but does not have a
statewide housing code. Many communities do have
local codes.