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legalgems
legalgems, attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 10484
Experience:  Just Answer consultant at Self employed
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Second opinion] I was recently renting a home that had major

Customer Question

Second opinion] I was recently renting a home that had major water damage and had leaks coming down the walls for months. Our landlord, who over sees our home for a friend who lives in China, sent someone to to an air quality test for mold back in March. A few weeks after the tests we inquired about the results and were told that information could only be given to the owner of the house. We tried to contact our landlord, but were told by her husband that she was out of the country for a month and that we were to contact a lawyer (who we assumed was a friend of theirs who was helping them) who would answer any questions. My wife contacted the lawyer who told us that the damage on the house was extensive and that we were unfortunately going to have to move out. Our lease ran from the 18th to the 18th. In the beginning of June we found another home that would rent to us, but they wanted us in July 1, which meant we would be paying double rent? We contacted the lawyer to see if there was any way they would assist us leaving, as it was going to be a financial hardship. He said that he would talk to the owner and get back to us. A few days later he said that they would only charge us rent from the 18th of June to July 1st to help us get out. So we were expecting to get the $3,800 deposit and the $2,279 ($126.66 per day from July 1-July 18) for the last months rent we had given at move in. We were contacted by the lawyer yesterday saying that they were going to give us our deposit back plus our full last months rent of $3,800 and to provide our address and he would send it to us. Then he said that he was e-mailing paperwork for us to sign. When we received the e-mail the paperwork was a settlement agreement and release, stating that nothing could be asked for in the future for any reason and it was a settlement in full. This leads us to believe that they found something wrong when the tested the air in the house and, thus the reason we believe the lawyer took over communication with us. My wife always felt sick in the house, especially our bedroom and had breathing issues, would wake up at night and just always felt crappy, which we suspected was due to the moisture in the walls, especially during our very wet winter in California.
JA: Because real estate law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: CALIFORNIA
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: Nothing official, but we need direction on what we should be doing. It has been a week since they received the keys back from us, as we were on vacation for two weeks.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I am curious why we are being asked to sign a release of liability, when all we want is the money that is owed to us? Do we have to sign it, or are they required to give us back what was agreed upon? If something was wrong with the house and my wife or any of my kids get sick or have issues because of us being in that house I don't want to not be able to go after them.
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  legalgems replied 2 months ago.
I am sorry to hear you are having to deal with this. If a release is signed, it has the general legal effect of barring that party from suing for further damages. Often times an attorney will request a release whenever the parties reach a settlement, as a matter of procedure. It may also indicate that there is concern as to possible future liability. A landlord must comply with the security deposit laws which only allows them to deduct for damage caused by the tenant that exceeds ordinary wear and tear. The tenant may need to sue in small claims to recover monies owing but not paid out. Before signing a release it is best to have an attorney review it. They may wish to draft a revised release which preserves damages for any medical condition caused by the condition of the premises.
Expert:  legalgems replied 2 months ago.

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