Is the landlord responsible for providing a dehumidifier when living in a basement unit which is damp and starting to mold?

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Is the landlord responsible for providing a dehumidifier when living in a basement unit which is damp and starting to mold?

I just started moving into my rented basement unit where the living room is above ground but the kitchen/dining room and bedroom are half-way underground. The apartment had mold on the window caulking and inside edges of the fridge door. My clothes and bedding became damp because the air was so humid. The paint on the walls in soft and peeling. I asked the landlord if they had a dehumidifier for me to use, they said no but “it would be a good idea for you to purchase one or invest in fans”. Is it the landlord’s responsibility to provide a dehumidifier?

Asked on August 7, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

It is not the landlord's responsibility to provide a dehumidifier, but there are other issues here due to the mold.

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 by making the necessary repairs, the tenant has the following options:  The tenant can make the repairs (contact someone to remove the mold) 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 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.


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