What to do when the leasing office asks former tenants to pay $10,000 for repairs of mold problem in the bathroom?

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What to do when the leasing office asks former tenants to pay $10,000 for repairs of mold problem in the bathroom?

We were 2 people living on lease in an apartment complex. There was a mold problem in the restroom. The leasing management asked us to vacate the apartment in 3 days, so we left the apartment. Now they are making a claim against us for the repair cost of $10,000. We have already talked with them but they are not willing to accept anything less than $10,000. What should we do?

Asked on June 4, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

What you should do is retain an attorney to represent you. Legally, you should not be liable for this sum unless--

1) Your lease contained some term or provision making you resonsible for all repair or mold remediation costs (which the typical residential lease does not); or

2) You caused the mold condition through some deliberate wrongful act or negligently--such as by failing to report some obvious leak for a prolonged or unreasonable time, which is what led to the condition.

Unless you contractually agreed to assume this cost or can be shown to have caused the condition, the landlord, not the tenant, is responible for the repair or  maintenance costs. However, if they take legal action against you, you want to make sure you present the law and the factual situation in the most favorable light. With $10,000 potentially at stake, it is well worth retaining an attorney to help  you. Good luck.


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