Can I break lease/get paid for black mold in my apartment?

This is a discussion on Can I break lease/get paid for black mold in my apartment? within the Landlord vs Tenant Issues forum, part of the REAL ESTATE & PROPERTY LAW category; I am in GA, and I moved into my apartment about 4 months ago. I have been coughing, sneezing, and ...

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Old Sep 16th, 2008, 08:51 PM   #1
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Default Can I break lease/get paid for black mold in my apartment?

I am in GA, and I moved into my apartment about 4 months ago. I have been coughing, sneezing, and blowing my nose since I got here. I was aware that there were problems with the roof before I moved in, but the management assured me that they were fixed. I asked them to change the a/c filter, and they did, but I was still sneezing. A couple months ago, I asked them to clean the ducts. I followed up several times, but they never did any more than changing the filter. A couple weeks ago, we had a very bad rain, and chunks started falling out of the ceiling in the laundry room. It also started leaking. The mgmt said to wait until all the storms passed and they would fix the roof. Meanwhile, my respiratory issues have worsened. Last week, I noticed that mold had begun to grow on the several of the vents. I reported the one in the bedroom, and maintenance told me it was rust and painted over it. I'm pretty sure they are lying, so I took pictures and collected samples. I don't want to stay here being poisoned for another 8 months. At the very least, I think they should let me out of the lease and give my deposit back. My dad thinks that I could sue and get some money, also. What should I do next?
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Old Sep 17th, 2008, 09:12 AM   #2
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Default Re: Can I break lease/get paid for black mold in my apartment?

Put all the repair issues in a letter and ask that they address the repairs within 10 days since the water can damage your belonings. Send this by certified mail, return receipt requested, and keep a copy and the postcard that comes back. If they fail to begin repairs and correct the problems quickly, you will be able to rent withhold with the clerk of court, or terminate your lease once you have documented all the mold with a professional mold test (available by health departments, HUD, the EPA, or air quality control companies). Send the letter, then repost after they reply.
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Old Apr 9th, 2009, 07:50 AM   #3
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Default Re: Can I break lease/get paid for black mold in my apartment?

I'm having the same problems. Just found black mold in my apartment. I've gone to the emergency room twice now. Took them 5 days to come look at the mold and they painted over it. I'm talking to my buddy who is an attorney and he says the same thing about letting them now giving them 5-10 days to fix the problem or you have to break your lease because it is unhabitable. Make sure you document everything. And yes you can take them to court for your health reasons. I'm doing the same thing this week. I dont' want to lose my health in an apartment i'm paying to live in.
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Old Apr 9th, 2009, 09:37 PM   #4
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Default Re: Can I break lease/get paid for black mold in my apartment?

Unless you *completely* document the mold issue, you will not prevail in court. You need to prove a couple of issues in order to win. First, you need to prove it is mold, and not mildew or some other similar looking fungus. You cannot tell by looking. To do this you need a lab test to show mold. Second, you need to show the strain of mold. Only 1% of all mold is black mold. Most all of the others are not dangerous. Some molds are even beneficial. In order to prove you have a dangerous strain, your lab test must show the type (strain or latin name) of the mold in the unit. Third, you must show the amount of mold present. Your lab test needs to show PPM (parts per million) of the mold in the air of the unit. A tiny bit of mold will get you nowhere. There is some mold in the air nearly everywhere in the world except very arid places. You need to show how much mold is present with this. And you need to show that the amount in the unit is higher than that of the surrounding area (outside). Finally, you need to document it, visually and otherwise. Take photos. Get copies of the painting orders. Get any statements you can from miantenance that shows how they addressed the problem (so you can later show that it was not sufficient.) Only with all of this will you be able to show you have mold, that the mold is dangerous, and that there is enough of it to effect your habitability. Get to work now to gather this proof.
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Old Sep 7th, 2009, 11:10 PM   #5
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Default Re: Can I break lease/get paid for black mold in my apartment?

What a bunch of crap! Whether it's "deadly" black mold or "friendly" mildew why do you have to live in it? My whole apt smells like it due to a leak in a down spout. The inside portion of the wall where the downspout is covered in mold, it leaked into my bedroom. But my entire apt smells like mildew, my clothes even smell like. Just because it isn't deadly, do I have to live with it? Give me a break!
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Old Sep 7th, 2009, 11:38 PM   #6
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Default Re: Can I break lease/get paid for black mold in my apartment?

Because deadly mold is much different of an issue than mildew. Mildew is not harmful to anyone unless they have an allergy. (And any allergies you have are your medical condition and have nothing to do with the LL.) An annoying smell is much different than mold spores in the air that can kill you! If you can document that it is harmful mold you have the right to have it repaired as an emergency situation (within a few days). Mildew is not an emergency and you must permit the LL a longer period to correct (up to 30 days). If you have water infiltration, you probably have mold, not mildew. I suggest you have testing done and make the required request to the LL for repairs.
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Old Oct 29th, 2009, 08:13 PM   #7
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Angry Re: Can I break lease/get paid for black mold in my apartment?

I live in Ga and recently had a toilet leak in my apartment a small one the LL sent the maintaince guy to fix it he pulled up and refixed my toilet 4 times each time filling the toilet up and pouring the water onto the floor when the leak did not stop....it flooded my living room kitchen and my neighbors apartment. He finally said it was fixed and left, he didn't clean up anything, I had used all my towels (which is no small amount) to try and contain the toilet water which is nasty, I dry off with these towels from my 2 years old because the last thing I wanted was for her to slip and fall on the kitchen floor in the nasty germ filled water, after washing and drying all the towels, and bleaching my bathroom floor and walls(the man left hand prints all over the place)I took my now clean towels and started soaking up the water out of my living room carpet I used all of my towles but 4 I set aside to lay down so that when we walked on the area we didn't not get our feet wet. Took a shower and went to bed. With in the hour my 2 year old woke me up for some milk, and my throat and tongue were swollen so bad I could barely breath, my chest and nose passages burned(and not from the bleach I have been useing bleach my whole life) I got my daughter her milk and went back to bed thinking my two older kids had brought me home a bug from school. In the morning my throat was alittle itchy but fine. Then I went to test my toilet it was still leaking, so the guy came back out, this time he only chaulked around the outside of the toilet. I was flabbergasted....thats not gonna keep it from leaking but ohwell, we are buying a home and gonna pull money from my hubbys 401k to pay the last 3 months of our lease to be out of here(there are so many problems with this apartment). My floor still had not dried I had been changeing towels every hour on the hour all day, I had to close my windows and turn onthe AC becuz the tempture jusmped up and my throat and Tongue began to swell again. Made an Doc Appointment and my doc confirmed it was a mold reaction from cleaning up the carpet. She told me to tell my LL to have a mold test done and fix the mold issues in my apartment, and if she doesn't to call the local news and building codes office...Well when I called her she was rude adn hateful, and bascily blamed me for the wet carpet, told me that she doesn't see how my reaction was her problem still currently seeing what can be done....I have 3 kids, and my middle child has lung problems already from having RSV as a baby....Will let you know how it goes...
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Old Oct 30th, 2009, 07:44 AM   #8
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Default Re: Can I break lease/get paid for black mold in my apartment?

Mold does not grow overnight. If you have mold in your unit, that toilet (or something else) has been leaking a whole lot longer than just a few days. If the mold had been under or near the toilet, you would have seen it when he pulled up that toilet 4 times. I suspect the mold is not there, but is either in the kitchen or in the carpet itself. It may have been from a previous leak that you had no knowledge about.

A health dept., building inspector, or an air quality company can do a mold test. You need a real test, not one of those cheap drugstore ones. You need one that tests PPM in the air (inside & outside to compare the increase inside), the strain of mold(s) present, and the quantity of them (how extensive). A simple swab test from a drug store won't tell you these things. This will show how high the mold is in the air, how far the mold has spread, and what types of mold it is (remember, not all molds are harmful).

While the doctor has confirmed a mold reaction, that doesn't help you since you can't prove where it was that you contacted the mold. You need to have it pinpointed to the unit itself. Good luck.
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Old Nov 17th, 2009, 10:35 PM   #9
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Confused Re: Can I break lease/get paid for black mold in my apartment?

i live in va and we just had a bad storm here. my roommate and i went to seperate places and didn't stay in the apartment because of the storm. When we returned after three days later we found mold and there was a ton of water damage. My LL wants to charge us 500 to move to another apartment becuase i asked that we move to another apartment because i was uncomfortable with them just painting over it. I asked that they move us or let us leave without charge or legal issued aginst us. she sd she cd moove us but didn't know if the coporate office would waive the 500 fee on top of our rent of 725 dollars. Can they do that i dont care what they do to the apartment i just dont want to live where i know theres mold growing and there not going to test it or anything. Please respond to my email raybeam52@yahoo.com i don't know if i'm going to have to hire a lawyer to get out of this crazy place. I took pictures of out walls no lie bulging in places with water! i need answers quick!
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Old Nov 17th, 2009, 11:27 PM   #10
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Default Re: Can I break lease/get paid for black mold in my apartment?

You must give the LL written notice of the problem and allow him a reasonable amount of time to remedy the problem. Only if he takes inadequate or no action can you can break a lease. If you were gone only 3 days and returned to find mold, that is not the dangerous strain of black mold. Black mold, Stachybotrys chartarum, colonizes between 8 and 12 days. So any mold you found after only 3 days could not be the most dangerous strain that everyone worries about.

Surface mold can be removed with any of several mildecide products available on the market in big box hardware stores. Mold in walls needs to have the drywall removed and replaced to correct it. Before these things can be done, all water needs to be removed from the area and the entry point of the water be corrected if in a wall or roof. If this was from a flood from a large storm, there may be little they can do to prevent a flood.

The LL can move you to another unit at normal rental rates (no additional fees) while your unit is being properly repaired. No extra fee should be charged to you. Or he can allow you to find your own accommodations and abate the rent for the period you are removed from the unit. But you need to leave the unit now so proper measures can be taken to remove all the water immediately. The longer it is in there, the worse the unit will be.

Go talk to the management now and insist that you be moved to a dry unit now at no additional cost to you. This water problem was not your fault and you should not be penalized for it.
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