What are my rights if I rent and have had issues with a leak in my young daughter’s room?

He had it looked at and said he would be back. Never came back and it’s been at least a month or so. Now there is mold. Also, my septic backs up and we can’t do laundry. He replaced a sink in the basement but it didn’t fix the clog. He said we just can’t do dishes and laundry at the same time. However, every time someone washes dishes or does anything it runs all over the laundry room floor in the basement. Can I stop paying rent or something? What should I do?

Asked on October 30, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Indiana

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

In a case, there are 2 legal remedies under which you may be able to proceed.
The first is something called "constructive eviction". If there is a mold condition that is causing you or your daughter potential health issues so that you must vacate the premises, you may have a legal claim for any costs you incur (i.e. a hotel; storing belongings; etc.). Further, there is the possibility for you to recover your attorney's fees, if any. Additionally, you may also be entitled to other remedies, depending upon specific state law. Any photos and/or other documentation that you have will strengthen your claim (e.g. any report that may have been or will be issued by the the Health Department, etc.).  
The second remedy as to do with what is called the a "breach of the warranty of habitability"; this warranty is implied in every residential lease. It provides that a tenant must be given a safe and sanitary premises in which to live. For such a breach, you have several options: you can terminate your lease; withhold rent until the repair is made; or make the repair yourself and the deduct the cost from your rent. The presence of mold typically qualifies as such a breach. Proof of your claim will be necessary (as above).
At this point, you should consult directly with an attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant cases. You can also speak with a tenants' rights advocacy organization. Please note, that if you attempt any of the above remedies you must be certain of your legal rights under applicable state law.  


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