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LawTalk
LawTalk, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 35308
Experience:  I have handled Real Estate and Landlord Tenant matters for more than two decades.
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I have two separate questions about a property we just moved

Customer Question

Hello - I have two separate questions about a property we just moved into in December 2015.1. The entire downstairs is a garage and a bonus room. When we looked at the place it stunk of mold and mildew, so we said it had to be inspected before move in. I speculate it hasn't been inspected but none the less I emailed the landlord and asked for a copy of that inspection and if one was not done if we could get one done. Now my question is, aren't they required to comply with that as mold is a serious health concern?2. Again speculation - but a series of events and an established pattern has led us to believe the owners are not paying the bills and foreclosure could be a possibility. (our water got shut off, so I called the water company, then our sewage got shut off, so I called the sewage company, then our lights got shut off, so I called the electric company, all for lack of payment by previous occupants, which were the owners - this to us is a pattern of not paying bills). For us to be prepared it that happens, what are our rights as tenants? Do we get a 6-month period? Do we have to be out right away? Can we hold the property management company liable (since they just took this property over in November 2015) and can we send them all the expenses we may incur as a result? Now this may not happen, but we believe it is more likely than not. We have only been in this house for 2 months now and have 10 months left on our lease. Should we be worried?
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  LawTalk replied 10 months ago.

Good morning,

I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today.In order to give you a clear and concise answer, I will need some additional information about the circumstances, please.

1. What state are you in?

2. When did you first sign the lease and take possession?

Doug

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
We are in South Carolina. We signed the lease and took possession on 12.01.15.
Expert:  LawTalk replied 10 months ago.

Hi,

1.

You asking or even demanding that it be inspected before you move in was not a part of the lease agreement unless you put that condition in the lease and the landlord was not obligated to abide by your request. All terms of your lease are in the lease contract. Anything not there would not be enforceable. If you have a mold concern, then contact your local health department and ask them to do an inspection. Most local departments are please to assist you at no charge to determine whether there is toxic mold in your rental unit.

2.

If your lease includes utilities, or you are required to pay the landlord directly for the utilities, and they are cut off because of non-payment by the landlord, that is a breach of the lease and you can sue the landlord for constructive eviction (at least as regards ***** ***** and sewer).

If the property is foreclosed on you will likely receive notice of the foreclosure sale at the property in the mail and you can figure that you have less than 2 months after that. You would of course be able to sue the landlord for damages including your moving expenses if you are evicted based on a foreclosure before the end of your lease. But there is no longer a guaranteed 3 month right to remain for month to month tenants, or a right to enforce the lease for people with leases. That law ended a couple of years ago.

I see no reason to be worried at this point. The property management company will not be responsible for a foreclosure---only the owner would be as that is who your lease is with. You could sue the management company, and the owner as well, if you could show that the management company did something separately to violate the lease.

You may reply back to me using the Reply link and I will be happy to continue to assist you until I am able to address your concerns, to your satisfaction.

Please be so kind as to rate my service to you. That is the only way I am credited for assisting you.

I wish you and yours the best in 2016,

Doug

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Doug -
1. It was not actually in the lease but it was verbally and written (via email) that the landlord would be responsible for taking care of that.2. The utilities are in my name. The shut off was a fluke because of how long the bill went unpaid. The utility company informed me the last payment the received was in Oct, before my payment in Dec for my utilities. We are also receiving (daily) final notice letters, debt collections, and numerous letters from the bank, which those could be anything but we have a gut feeling they are past due payments. There is a clear pattern that bills are not being paid if we are getting their final notices even after we return them to sender. We are not on a month to month lease. We are on a full year lease and it was such a pain to move in there and now that we are settled we do not want to deal with trying to find another place and paying to move again. We do not have any forwarding information for the owners, we do everything through the property management company, who I feel should properly vet their property owners. With that said, i don't think we could go after the owners for any damages. Also, if the property is foreclosed on, what do we do about rent? Do we continue to pay it knowing we are about to get kicked out?
Expert:  LawTalk replied 10 months ago.

Did the landlord AGREE or did you just demand?

Expert:  LawTalk replied 10 months ago.

Do consider my call offer, as you appear to have numerous issues that you want to discuss and get answers to.

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