Who doI contact if my landlord refuses to make repairs/replace fixtures and as a result mold is forming?

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Who doI contact if my landlord refuses to make repairs/replace fixtures and as a result mold is forming?

Less then a year ago I noticed that there was water coming up between my kitchen tile. Upon inspection I noticed that my hot water heater was leaking (the water heater is located under my kitchen counter). I notified the apartment manager and the water heater was replaced. There was water damage done to the cabinet’s, the floor, and the wall but it was not taking care of at the time. About a week ago, I noticed water coming up from under the kitchen floor again. I notified the apartment manager many times and still no action has taken place. I have done my best to prevent further damage, but mold has now formed everywhere. What do I do?

Asked on December 3, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You should consult with an attorney to help you--there are several different options, but they generally have to be implemented correctly to be effective and also avoid potential liability on your behalf, such as for breach of a lease. As general information: all leases have what's known as an implied warranty of habitability, which is an extra term added--or "implied"--to leases that the rented premises will be fit for their intended purpose, such as residence. This requires landlords to repair issues affecting use, health, safety, etc., but not minor or cosmetic issues. If the water damage is undermining the floor, which affects safety, and/or contributing to mold, which affects health, it may therefore implicate the implied warranty of habitability. When it is implicated, a tenant may be able to (1) sue the landlord to force him to make repairs; (2) sue for monetary damages or compensation; (3) withhold part of the rent and use that money to make the repairs himself. However, as mentioned above, if you withhold rent money and don't do it correctly, you'd be in breach of the lease and liable for damages and eviction; get an attorney's help before doing this.


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