If our rental house has mold and the landlord will credit us with 1 month rent, what protection do we have if it takes longer than the expected 4 weeks to fix?

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If our rental house has mold and the landlord will credit us with 1 month rent, what protection do we have if it takes longer than the expected 4 weeks to fix?

Landlord wrote in email that she will be “reasonable” to work with us (tenants) regarding additional compensation if the actual work to fix mold issue is not completely done (house is not back to normal and habitable use) by the end of 3 week period (renovation/remediation company told insurance company that they expect to complete their work within 3 weeks). However, landlord refuses to quantify the amount. What are tenants’ rights if it does take longer than 3 weeks to fix? Do we have to pay next month’s rent?

Asked on June 26, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

Cameron Norris, Esq. / Law Office of Gary W. Norris

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Mold is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  The implied warranty of habitability applies to all residential housing regardless of whether or not it states so in the lease (that's why its implied).  When a condition arises that makes the housing unliveable (such as mold), then the landlord is in breach.  The tenant has the option of not paying rent or paying rent and asking for a refund.  You are not responsible for paying rent for any period in which there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, such as the period during which there was still mold. 

You should refuse to pay.  If the landlord sues for rent or trying to get a wrongful detainer action (to eventually evict) you have a defense.  Keep records and get proof from the workers using an invoice etc. of the days during which they were doing the work. 


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