What are my rights regarding a mold issue that my landlord failed to take care of and my withholding rent?

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What are my rights regarding a mold issue that my landlord failed to take care of and my withholding rent?

About 6 weeks ago, I was hospitalized for unknown respiratory issues. When i returned home a few days later my bathroom ceiling came through. We then discovered there was a leak that was never properly fixed and in turn had extreme amounts of mold. We notified our complex on this matter several times and they continuously denied that it was mold. We reported them to several agencies after they continued to not address the mold nor properly fix the leak. They continued to just patch it up and go on their way this was done four times before the actual leak itself was fixed. Can I sue? They are now evicting us can i argue to not owe them the last months rent that was with held?

Asked on June 23, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) If the landlord knew about the mold (so at any time after you told them) and/or reasonably must have known (any reasonable person, based on the known facts, would have strongly suspected mold) and refuses to do anything about it, then yes, you may be allowed to withhold rent until the condition is fixed, and withholding for that reason would not be grounds for eviction--assuming, that is, that if they try to evict you, that the court agrees with you that the condition was bad enough to justify withholding rent. (Not all conditions do--only those that reasonably affect habitability.) Raise the mold or habitability issue as a defense at the eviction proceeding, but be prepared to pay the rent same day if the court disagrees with you, or to deposit it with the court if the court wants it held in trust while the matter is resolved.

2) You may be entitled to a rent abatement or credit for the period of time that the landlord knew about an issue affecting habitability but nonethess failed to take effective action to correct it.


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