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Dimitry Esquire
Dimitry Esquire, Attorney
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  JA Mentor, multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation & admin
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I have a neighbor who has mold in her apartment. her children

Customer Question

I have a neighbor who has mold in her apartment. her children have been sick since she moved in and she is constantly taking them to the doctor with asthma-like issues. they are all on medication now. I saw a large patch of mold in her apartment and told her to have the city inspector to come out who did and found excessive moisture and mold. the property management was cited and ordered to perform mold abatement using certified people. instead the apartment complex handyman entered the apartment while she was at work without her knowledge. he used bleach to remove the mold and left a note saying they were coming back to paint. I then found that she had complained to management many times and received notes back telling her to clean it herself with bleach. she showed me these notes on maintenance letterhead. the city inspector returned because we called her and she brought management with her and retested in their presence showing excessive moisture and mold still present. I listened as management said that the mold was due to tenant neglect because she did not open windows enough. last night I looked at her lease and found a "mold notice" section informing tenant that mold only occurred when tenants maintained their apartments in damp and dirty and unventilated conditions, therefore all mold was the result of tenant neglect and management was not liable. I went home and read my own lease and see now that everyone living here signed this thing and in the thinking of management, have all the responsibility of mold since the tenants signed responsibility to themselves.
My question is, is such a lease legal?
I would appreciate any other comments you may have. The management here towed her vehicle the last time she complained saying that she had a flight tire. She is of limited means and lost that vehicle because she couldn't pay the fees to get it back. I spoke to the tow business and they said management ordered it but the towing people have no idea why they were asked to tow. When they got there, there was no flat tire.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Dimitry Esquire replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.
Hi, the lease is valid still, but the clause is not. The landlord cannot legally transfer liability to the tenant for items or repairs that the landlord has to perform. If there is existing mold on premises, for example, the obligation is on the landlord to repair as he has a duty to provide premises that are safe and habitable for use. So that lease condition, claiming that the tenant is responsible, is thrown out if challenged because it creates a burden that the tenant is responsible when no evidence links the tenant to the infestation. Now, the tenant CAN be liable if evidence can be shown that the tenant caused the infestation due to neglect, but if the tenant is using premises safely and properly, landlord is liable and not the tenant. Frankly taking that landlord to court and getting this clause voided out would probably be a prudent step if he attempts to hold you to this language.
Dimitry, Esq.