What are a tenant’s rights regarding a rental with a severe mold problem?

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What are a tenant’s rights regarding a rental with a severe mold problem?

I rented a condo and it had a musty smell. The owner told told me to clean the A/C filter. My 6 year old became ill. A friend told me it could be mold. Called in a professional and paid for the initial inspection. It was indeed mold. The report recommended I leave immediately.The owner was going to give me my security back but not the first months rent. I lived in the condo 6 days and left because it was recommended by a licensed mold mediator that I leave immediately. The owners handyman said there is not any mold. The owner recommends I cooperate with him or he will hold me responsible for the lease. This is crazy because the condo has a serious mold problem behind the walls. This situation is not my fault. Do I pursue this legally?

Asked on April 12, 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 and 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 options:  The tenant can 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.

As mentioned above, if you move out, you terminate your obligation to pay rent for the balance of the term of the lease.  Due to the breach of the implied warranty of habitability, the landlord won't be able to hold you liable for the rent for the balance of the term of the lease.


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