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Ask Barrister Your Own Question
Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 33766
Experience:  15 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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We have been having mold problems in our rental property

Customer Question

Hello we have been having mold problems in our rental property since we moved in due to numerous leaks cause by my landlords negligence. The first was in our master bed room closet and spread into the kitchen. The landlord and his friend said they fixed it. That was in Jan 2015. Well now the mold is back in both closets and also in the main bath room cabinet. I am 4 months pregnant and doctors are advising me to not be around this. I have 3 doctors notes which state the mold is causing numerous problems including a skin rash, allergys and stress to unborn baby. My landlord finally called his insurance last week when I complained about this problem again. They came out and put huge dihumitafiers in here on Saturday. They are making the house unimhabitable with loud noise dry air and in both bathrooms. Insurance was suppose to come access the problem this morning but never showed up. My landlord ignored my call. I am asking what I am suppose to do now and should we be paying rent while this is going on and making it hard to live here? I fear for the health of my family and even my small dog since I have noticed he has started coughing. We are now staying at my finances mothers home. What should we do? Do we pay rent while the mold is making our rental inhabitable? We are in Watsonville California.
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 7 months ago.
Dear Customer,I am sorry to learn of this situation.Dealing with mold conditions in a rental unit is a difficult matter, as both whether or not mold is considered a "habitability" issue is still unsettled in California, and the extent of the problem is subjective (meaning what one person considers to be noxious, another may consider to be an annoyance, while some others may require evaluation by an expert witness).However, there is support for using the "habitability" remedies, see: http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/problems.shtmlThese are detailed here: http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/problems.shtml(In short: you can "repair and deduct" (make the repairs yourself, and deduct the costs from your rent); exercise "rent withholding" (stop paying rent until the problem is fixed); or terminate the lease).Be aware, the rent withholding remedies are higher risk - if you withhold rent, the landlord may try sending a 3 day notice to pay or quit, then file an unlawful detainer, at which point you are going to have to convince the court regarding the habitability issue. Short of filing a lawsuit, you can try to mediate the dispute with them - contact your local bar association and request referrals to mediators, a third party neutral can often help you reach a mutually agreeable resolution. Use the bar association's referrals to contact a mediator or two, the mediator will then contact the other party to set up a mediation session, and you can go from there - hopefully resulting in a formal or written settlement agreement, and save yourself the time and expense of litigation.You can also try contacting your local (county) health department and reporting the problem. If the department issues a notice to the landlord to repair the issue, this can insulate you from an unlawful detainer (under the principle of "retaliatory eviction" defenses) for up to 6 months).
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Expert:  Barrister replied 7 months ago.
Hello, new expert here....I see you requested a new expert and I wanted to see if you still needed help with your question?.I do agree with what the previous expert stated about contacting the local Code Enforcement or Housing Inspector's office to have them out to inspect the property...Please let me know what you need help with as I have been a landlord for over 26 years and can give you the inside scoop on how landlords think...thanksBarrister

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