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I recently moved into a place that has a lot of issues, the…

Hello, I recently moved...

Hello, I recently moved into a place that has a lot of issues, the carpet in particular appears to be growing mildew under the pads and has a sticky residue and sour smells when touched over the whole entire carpet. Our landlord never informed us of this issue and the carpet has been cleaned several times with no improvement. They are refusing to do anything else to help us and are trying to blame us even though it was on the revised condition report upon move in. Is there anything I can do?

Lawyer's Assistant: What steps have you taken so far? Have you prepared or filed any paperwork?

I submitted the condition report stating the exact condition of the carpet and several photos

Lawyer's Assistant: Where is the property located?

Oregon

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

The management company had the carpets steam cleaned recently and the issue was not resolved... I believe the carpets were ruined by the previous tenants.

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Answered in 5 minutes by:
5/14/2018
Roy Hadavi
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 1,500
Experience: Attorney at Law Offices of Rosenstein & Associates
Verified

­­Hi. My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney. I would be happy to provide assistance. Please keep in mind that our conversation does not include an attorney‑client relationship and this is for general information purposes only.

Answer:

If, despite your businesslike written repair requests, the landlord hasn’t fixed or addressed a serious problem that truly makes your rental unit uninhabitable—rats in the kitchen or broken locks on the apartment door, for example—you will want to take stronger measures. Your options include one or more of what we call the “big sticks” in a tenant’s arsenal. Big stick remedies include:


  • calling state or local building or health inspectors

  • withholding the rent

  • repairing the problem, or having it repaired by a professional, and deducting the cost from your rent (called “repair-and-deduct”)

  • moving out, or 

  • paying the rent and then suing the landlord for the difference between the rent you paid and the value of the defective premises.


It’s important to understand that you shouldn’t use a big stick 
remedy rashly. Before you withhold rent, move out, or adopt another extreme remedy, make sure every one of these conditions is met: 


  • It's a major repair or habitability problem. The problem must be serious, not just annoying, and msut imperil your health or safety. Not every building code violation or annoying defect in your rental home justifies use of a “big stick” against the landlord.

  • It's not your fault. You (or a guest) did not cause the problem, either deliberately or through carelessness or neglect. If so, you can’t pursue big stick options.

  • You followed state rules regarding notifying the landlord. You have told the landlord about the problem and gave them a reasonable opportunity—or the minimum amount of notice required by state law—to get it fixed. You can’t use big stick options without taking these first steps. You’ll need to check your state’s law for the exact notification requirements for the specific option you are pursuing.

  • You're paid up in rent. As a tenant, you are squeaky clean. Under most rent withholding laws you cannot withhold rent if you are behind in the rent or in violation of an important lease clause. 

  • You are willing to risk termination of your tenancy by an annoyed landlord. Exercising any of the rights discussed here will not endear you to your landlord. Many state laws forbid landlords retaliation against tenants by raising the rent or terminating the tenancy, but, unfortunately, some states don’t. If your lease is about to run out (or you’re a month-to-month tenant) and your state does not protect you from retaliatory rent increases or evictions, a complaint to health inspectors or the use of a big stick could end up causing you to lose your rental.
  • You are willing to risk eviction if a judge decides that you shouldn’t have used the big stick, and your credit report can bear this negative mark. Even if you’re sure that you were justified in using a big stick, a judge may decide otherwise. For example, if you withhold rent, the landlord may sue to evict you based on nonpayment of rent. In most states and in most situations, you’ll have a second chance to pay the balance before being evicted, but not always. For some tenants, additional negative marks on their credit records will cause extremely serious problems not only for future rentals but for loans and employment as well.

  • You can find a comparable or better unit if you move out, either voluntarily or because the building is closed due to code violations you have reported. In some states, landlords whose buildings are closed due to code violations must help their tenants with relocation expenses. 


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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Is mildewed carpet considered a safety hazard to the tenant?

Generally, yes.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
By law is the landlord responsible to remedy this situation if the condition was present well before we moved in?

Yes.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
What would be the best course of action if they refuse?

Unfortunately, I cannot tell you that, because it would fall under advice. All I can do is provide you the information that I have provided you above.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Okay, no problem. Is it legal for them to evict us for trying to resolve this issue? I dont want to harass them in any way but they do not respond to calls or emails

You can see the section above where I discuss that. Copied here again for your convenience:

Even if you’re sure that you were justified in using a big stick, a judge may decide otherwise. For example, if you withhold rent, the landlord may sue to evict you based on nonpayment of rent. In most states and in most situations, you’ll have a second chance to pay the balance before being evicted, but not always. For some tenants, additional negative marks on their credit records will cause extremely serious problems not only for future rentals but for loans and employment as well.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Thank you

You're very welcome.

Please do not forget to rate my services at the top of the page (hopefully 5 stars), otherwise I get no credit for helping you today.

Roy Hadavi
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 1,500
Experience: Attorney at Law Offices of Rosenstein & Associates
Verified
Roy Hadavi and 87 other Real Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you
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Thank you so much for the 5‑star rating! I know rating takes an additional step and I truly appreciate you taking the extra time! It's been my honor and privilege to help you with this. If I can help you in any way in the future, I'll be happy to help. For easy access, my bookmark is: https://www.justanswer.com/law/expert‑royhadavi/ Or, simply request "Roy only" in the first line of your question.

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