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I rented a small house in Bluemont VA on Jan. 1 2012. When…

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I rented a small house...
I rented a small house in Bluemont VA on Jan. 1 2012. When my children and I were cleaning the house before moving in we noticed mold on the window sill. I contacted the landlord. He said it was from the previous tenants leaving the window open. He told me to get a dehumidifier and paint the sills with Kilz. I did both of those things. While staying in the house I got what I thought was the flu. I couldn't shake it. I went on a trip for my job. I immediately felt better. On my return to the house after a few days I felt sick again. I had hooked up the dehumidifier. When the bucket full light light went on, I pulled out the bucket to empty it. It had a black substance in the water. I then noticed a light black film on some of my things. I called an Air Quality specialist to have the house tested. After he gathered the air and swab tests he told me to leave the house and not return. He suspected a mold issue. I did that immediately. When the results came back it was positive for several types of mold. The air had 100% more mold than allowed. I could send you the results. I contacted the landlord. His reponse was"Sorry you are leaving the house" He has agreed to give my deposit back and let me out of the lease. I have spent a lot of money on cleaning and painting the house. I have to take time off from work to move, the expense of moving, the expense of the testing, I have no where to move to because I haven't had a chance to look, I have to have all of my things cleaned to get rid of the mold. I had to pay rent on a place I couldn't stay in. All of this has been a strain on me financially, emotionally, and physically. I feel the landlord should compensate me for more than just my deposit. Also, I want to make sure he does not rent this house to anyone else until it gets a clean bill of health. I don't want someone to move in with children or an elderly person. What rights do I have?
Submitted: 6 years ago.Category: Landlord-Tenant
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Answered in 14 minutes by:
2/29/2012
Lawyer: LawTalk, Attorney replied 6 years ago
LawTalk
LawTalk, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 37,876
Experience: I have handled Real Estate and Landlord Tenant matters for more than two decades.
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Good morning,

I'm sorry to hear of your situation.

I have handled mold cases in the past, and they can be quite difficult to prove. The fact that the landlord is not trying to enforce the lease agreement is a good thing.

While there is certainly no reason that your deposit should not be returned, the likelihood that your rent for the period of time you actually occupied the unit will be returned is minimal---a court certainly would not order it, as you did have use of the unit.

As for cleaning and painting, if you have receipts for the expenses in curred in cleaning and painting, you can likely get reimbursed for those expenses.

If you press for relocation expenses, you will first be obligated to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the home was not habitable. If you can do that, you should be eligible for your reasonable expenses incurred as a consequence of the breach of habitability by the landlord. However, you will have to prove the problem---it may not be presumed in court based on the fact that the landlord let you out of your lease. Now, if you are in small claims court, the LIVE testimony of the air quality specialist may well be all that you need to prove your case. In a higher court, you will be faced with the additional rigors of qualifying an expert and that will likely offset any benefit of being awarded your consequential damages.

You appear to have a meritorious case, and I would suggest that you limit any legal action to small claims court. And, as the landlord will not even return your deposit at this point---you may have to sue to get what you are entitled to.

As a practical matter, short of reporting the issue to the county Department of Health and having them condemn the property, you have no legal way of preventing the landlord from renting the unit again before remediation. You could speak to new renters who move in---but I would warn against that as it might result in you being sued by the landlord---even if the suit is defendable by you.

I wish you the best in 2012.

Because I help people here, like you, for a living---this is not a hobby for me, and I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX abiding by the honor system as regards XXXXX XXXXX I wish you and your family the best in your respective futures.

Would you be so kind as to Accept my Answer so that I may be compensated for assisting you? Bonuses for greatly informative and helpful answers are very much appreciated. Thanks Again,

Doug
LawTalk
LawTalk, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 37,876
Experience: I have handled Real Estate and Landlord Tenant matters for more than two decades.
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
I have a report from the lab and the air quality specialist. I can prove the mold. I also could not stay there all of February. Don't landlords have the obligation to provide a unit that won't make me sick?
Lawyer: LawTalk, Attorney replied 6 years ago
Good morning,

Yes, the issue of habitability is always mandatory. However, my concern is that if you press to collect all of the money, you can be expected to prove that the place made you ill. This is a purely medical issue, and your testimony that you felt bad will not act as proof of a dangerous condition. Delving into that area of law and proof will require that you retain medical experts, environmental experts---something that my form has spend in excess of $10,000 on in a single case.

I'm trying to suggest a way for you to get as much as possible without you resulting to spending 5 or 10 times whet you stand to recover.

Feel free to ask for what you want---but don't be surprised if the judge tells you that you have not met your burden of proof. Your lab report may be of help in small claims court. Outside of that court system, the document will NOT be on its own---and will require authentication and supporting Expert witness testimony.

Doug
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