What to do if there was a leak in my apartment but the landlord continues to allow me to live here with mold and water soaked carpet that has not been cleaned?

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What to do if there was a leak in my apartment but the landlord continues to allow me to live here with mold and water soaked carpet that has not been cleaned?

I’ve reported the leak several times and the complex would come and dry the water up and leave. I also reported a leak in the laundry room several times and they didn’t do anything. They changed out the washer machine but that was it. I have a compromised immune system and became very sick and was diagnose with upper respitory infection from the mold because I don’t smoke. They still after 3 weeks haven’t come to do any repairs.

Asked on July 1, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You could withhold the rent because your landlord is violating his obligation under the "implied covenant of habitability"--the obligation to provide premises which are safely habitable and fit for residence--and when the landlord tries to evict you, raise the impairment of habitability as a defense. If you do this, keep the withheld rent money separate, safe, and available, since if you get a  judge who does not agree and feels that this condition was not severe enough to warrant withholding rent, you will have to pay the rent immediately; you might also get a judge who wants you to deposit the rent in court to be held in trust pending resolution of the matter. If the judge does agree with you about the issue, he can order the landlord to make repairs and/or that you get a rent abatement.

Alternately, you could treat the lease as terminated by the landlord's failure to maintain the premises and move out. If the landlord disagrees, he might sue you for breach of the lease. You'd again raise the habitability issue as a defense. If a judge disagreed with you about the severity, you'd have to pay rent for the balance of the lease term.

The problem is, judges vary in how they view matters: in my experience, some judges consider mold issues very important, but others do not seem as such, so it's impossible to predict in advance the outcome of any legal proceedings.


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