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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    1

    Default Apartments Won't Fix Mold Issue. How Do I Get Out?

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: Texas

    About 7 months ago, a part of the ceiling over the bathtub started "yellowing". I reported it numerous times to apartment management; they didn't even come look at it. Eventually it started to get a bubbly yellow look, water started pouring/dripping out of the ceiling when the upstairs neighbors would use their bathtub and little pieces of the ceiling started falling into the bathtub while I was showering.

    I ended up sending a certified letter about the bathroom ceiling leak, drain flies (noticed the first night after move-in), some yellowish "stains" that appeared along the walls in the living and dining room (and some other stuff). The manager received the letter but the mailman didn't make her sign for it. The maintenance guy came, fixed a minor thing in the letter and glanced in the bathroom, said he'd back. Two days later I went in and talked to the manager. Fast forward: A week later he supposedly "fixed" the ceiling leak and got rid of the nasty stuff on the ceiling. I had to purchase something for the drain flies because they said they "don't have an exterminator at the time and I should just try to see if bleach will get rid of them".

    Probably about 1 1/2 months ago the ceiling started getting black mold on it. Called them as soon as I saw it. No one came. Called them more times. Nothing. Reported it when I went to pay the rent. Still nothing. It's not huge but definitely bigger than where it started. Now it's to the point that my son and myself are being affected (infected ???). He has allergies and eczema - both are extremely bad now - was doing good before. And I've had a horrible headache EVERY DAY for the past two weeks. Both his pediatrician and allergist have said we need to get out of there ASAP (they've seen pics).

    I don't care about them repairing it anymore; I just want to move out. Is there any way I can get out of the lease without having an eviction on my credit or having to pay them for the remainder of the lease? A friend of a friend told me I can sue them in small claims court for a portion of the rent from when it was reported and for medical expenses. Is that true?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Toledo, OH
    Posts
    16,087

    Default Re: Apartments Won't Fix Mold Issue. How Do I Get Out?

    Regardless of the terms of the lease, there is a law which requires the landlord to repair conditions which materially affect a tenantís physical health or safety, and to provide hot water to a tenant. Texas law requires the landlord to make reasonable efforts to repair any condition which materially affects the health or safety of an ordinary tenant and to provide hot water to the tenant. The landlordís failure to comply with this law may entitle a tenant to perform the repair and deduct the costs from rent, a court order requiring the landlord to make the repairs, a court order reducing the rent, and a penalty of one monthís rent plus $500. Alternatively, the tenant may terminate the lease, move out, and obtain a penalty of one monthís rent plus $500.

    As mentioned above a remaining tenant may have conditions repaired and deduct the cost from the rent. This may be done only if:

    1) the landlord has failed to remedy the backup or overflow or raw sewage inside the tenantís dwelling or the flooding from broken pipes or natural drainage inside the dwelling;

    2) the landlord has expressly or impliedly agreed in the lease to furnish potable water to the tenantís dwelling and the water service to the dwelling has totally ceased;

    3) the landlord has expressly or impliedly agreed in the lease to furnish heating or cooling equipment; the equipment is producing inadequate heat or cooled air; and the landlord has been notified in writing by the appropriate local housing, building, or health official or other official having jurisdiction, that the lack of heat or cooling materially affects the health or safety of an ordinary tenant; or

    4) the landlord has been notified in writing by the appropriate local housing, building, or health official or other official having jurisdiction that the condition materially affects the health or safety of an ordinary tenant.

    It is worth noting that under the law, even if you have a claim against your landlord for not maintaining your apartment, you are not excused from paying rent until you take the necessary steps. If you stop paying rent, your landlord could have you evicted.

    Here is what you must do to exercise your rights:
    1) You must give the landlord written notice. Explain the problem, and tell the landlord that it materially affects your health or safety. You cannot be delinquent in the payment of rent at the time notice is given. The notice should also state that unless the condition is repaired you may terminate the lease, have the condition repaired and deduct the costs of repair from your next rent payment, or bring a civil action for a court order and damages. You should send this notice via certified mail, return-receipt-requested.

    2) The landlord has a reasonable time to repair the problem. What is reasonable depends on the facts of the situation. A leaking roof for example, is serious, and a few days may be a reasonable time to repair the leak.

    3) If your apartment is not repaired within a reasonable time and you sent the repair notice by certified mail, your landlord is liable. If you gave the notice any other way, you must give the landlord a written second notice and wait another reasonable period of time before your landlord is liable.

    If the landlord is liable for not making the repairs, you have the right to:
    (1) have the condition repaired and deduct the costs from your next rent payment;
    (2) sue and force a rent reduction;
    (3) sue and get a court order requiring the landlord to make the repairs; and
    (4) sue to recover damages of one monthís rent plus $500.
    or

    1. terminate the lease, move out; and
    2. sue to recover damages of one monthís rent plus $500.


    If you have to hire an attorney and you win the case, the landlord must pay your attorneyís fees.

    http://www.law.uh.edu/peopleslawyer/tenant3.html
    Pay attention to the boldfaced bits.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I play a researcher on the internet!
    Caution: I bite. WARNING: Do not send questions or complaints by PM. I'm likely to post them publicly and embarrass you half to death.
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