What to do about a leaking pipe inside of the walls of the condo that I rent?

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What to do about a leaking pipe inside of the walls of the condo that I rent?

I have been a tenant for 2.5 years and my landlord hasn’t paying mortgage or HOA fees. I have a problem with some leaking pipe that is causing mildew and mold. I asked my landlord to send someone but she stated since she is not getting paid she will not fix anything; I called the HOA and they responded it is the landlords responsibility. My family is getting sick from this my oldest daughter moved out because of headaches and I just keep popping pills in my mouth and my youngest had some kind of virus that lasted for 2 weeks. We all are getting bitten by some knats or something that is attracted to the damp walls and my little one is eatten alive and left with black marks all over her. I want to know who is responsible and would like to sue because the damage is done and I am also having chest pain as well.

Asked on September 11, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In every lease there is an implied warranty of habitability which requires the landlord to maintain the premises in a habitable condition by complying with state and local housing codes.  The mold is a health issue which constitutes a breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  When there is a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, the tenant notifies the landlord as you have done, and the landlord is required to respond within a reasonable time by making the necessary repairs.  When the landlord fails to respond within a reasonable time, the tenant has the following remedies:  The tenant can make the repairs (call a plumber to make the repairs) and deduct the cost from the rent or the tenant can move out and terminate the obligation to pay rent for the balance of the term of the lease or if the tenant stays on the premises, the tenant can withhold rent and defend against eviction.  Another alternative is for the tenant to sue the landlord for breach of the implied warranty of habitability.  You can also contact your local housing code inspector, who can bring an enforcement action against the landlord for housing code violations.

As for the illnesses to you and your family members from the mold, each of you have separate personal injury claims against the landlord.  When each of you complete your medical treatment and are released by the doctor, obtain the medical bills and medical reports and documentation of any wage loss.  A personal injury claim filed with the landlord's insurance carrier should include these items.  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document tha nature and extent of the injury and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering, which is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.  If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the landlord's insurance carrier, reject the settlement offers and file a lawsuit for negligence against the landlord.  If the case is settled with the landlord's insurance carrier, NO lawsuit is filed.  If the case is NOT settled with the landlord's insurance carrier, the lawsuit must be filed prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.  With regard to your children's injuries, you will need to be appointed guardian ad litem to file a lawsuit on their behalf because minors cannot file a lawsuit.

You file a lawsuit against the landlord with a cause of action (claim) for breach of the implied warranty of habitability and a separate cause of action (claim) in the same lawsuit for negligence to seek compensation for the personal injury discussed above 


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