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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 41220
Experience:  Multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation and administration.
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Help! Mold in my apartment.What are my legal rights? Can I sue? Discovered last year all o

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Help! Mold in my apartment.What are my legal rights? Can I sue? Discovered last year all over bedroom furniture and belongings in closets and on carpeting under beds. No action by landlord. I have had sinus headaches regularly the last couple of yrs & other issues. Notified landlord again. Finally had air tested which came back with elevated levels. Inspector stated the process of cleaning it would take at least 3 days. My landlord seemed like he would do whatever needed to be done until the next day he decides he wants to do it himself and have the air tested in a few months to see if it has improved. He said he would only take a day or 2 & he would treat the carpet. The carpet is old and smelled musty when I first moved in 4 yrs ago and for some reason he seems really against replacing it. He treated the crawl space himself this weekend and whatever he did had my eyes burning later that night and irritated my sinuses!!! I'm frustrated and don't know what I can do.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your question.

Ultimately what do you wish to accomplish so that I can best assist you? What is your end result? Do you want to break your lease?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

It's probably best if I moved. I would like my full deposit returned, moving expenses paid and my belongings treated / cleaned and /or compensated for, so I do not bring the mold spores to my new home. I will be going to the doctor so my medical expenses paid & if there are any future bills related to this issue. I now believe that this has caused some of the medical issues me & my daughter now have and had. Can I be reimbursed for my PG&E bills because I have to use an electric heater? I don't see how he thinks its ok that he tries the remediation then re-test later in a few months? And if it doesn't work? We are subjected to breathing in this mold because he wanted to save money? Can I withhold rent? What else can I be compensated for? I have been way to accomodating & tired of being taken advantage of.

Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your follow-up.

Great, that is both the most responsible option and also likely the easiest to implement.

First of all, what you CANNOT do is withhold rent. So put that out as a viable remedy, but at least under California law you have quite a few protections that you can pursue.

What you can do is send him notice in writing requesting that he complete repairs within the next specific period of time (7 or 14 days) or you will claim that the unit is "uninhabitable" and move out. If he fails to respond, do exactly as you threatened--move out completely, take all your items with you, and make sure to leave the place bare and without any of your things. Then the second you move go to court with a copy of the letter and file suit for "constructive eviction" against the landlord. Bring the letter as evidence of the fact the unit was uninhabitable--you may also want to bring data from inspectors which showed mold and elevated levels. As part of your claim demand that the landlord cover your relocation expenses (up to $5,000 if you are under 65, and up to $8,000 if older), and 3X your monthly rental fee on grounds of punitive damages for failing to provide you with a healthy place to live. The medical expenses if any are separate, and that would be brought against him if any exist via a personal injury claim. The electrical issue is a non-issue, I do not see that as valid.

Hope that helps.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
He's planning on doing the "treating" of the apartment himself next week. He dropped boxes off so I can start packing my things. I do not agree that he remedy the mold himself. In my request can I request that a certified company do the remediation not him? And either way do I still have a claim since I have made him aware of the mold 9 months ago and have been having health issues? ANd the PG&E was because he has failed to fix the heater which hasn't been working since winter of 09-10 so I have to use an electric one for heat.
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your follow-up.

Once and if he "treats", have a third party test the air. If the air is still unhealthy, move out, and then pursue the steps I outlined. You can request in your letter than a certified third party perform the work. You would not have a claim if he makes valid repairs since you sat too long to pursue the health issue from before. The PG&E is a separate issue, but you can add it to your list of repairs and demand it be done or you move out on those grounds.

Good luck.
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