Timothy G. Cook, Attorney At Law

Marietta Bankruptcy, Family Law and Contract Law Attorney

Mold in my apartment

Question: I didn’t pay rent for the month of June because there is mold in my home. My daughter is sick and she was tested positive for mold allergies. My landlord told me that it is my responsibility to get rid of the mold or move out. Now he is trying to evict me.

Answer: Mold is a tough issue for both landlords and tenants. In Georgia a residental landlord has an absolute duty to make repairs to the leased premises. They cannot hold you responsible for making repairs to the home. Your burden is to prove to the Court that the mold exists and that you notified the landlord to make repairs and they didn’t do so. Because so many tenants who can’t pay try to use the defense of mold problems, the Courts don’t know if it is true or not. To prove it, you must have a inspection performed on the property at your expense by an expert. The expert needs to furnish you with a report and a sworn affidavit that you can present in Court to show the Judge the conditions exist. A medical report of your daughter is not going to prove it because a good landlord attorney could show she could have gotten this anywhere. Next, always, always notify the landlord of repairs that need to be made in writing. If you wrote the landlord, you have a document you can present to the Court showing that on this date and this date I asked them to make repairs and they would not do it. From the landlord side if your tenant is claiming mold problems, you need to investigate and take pictures of the problems. If it is there, you must make repairs to the leased premises in a reasonable time. There are several mold remdiation firms that specialize in this. If you do ignore it, be aware that if the tenant did the above items, they can go beyond just lease damages, in proving possible personal injury.

Finally, tenants always make the mistake that if the landlord doesn’t fix something, I will just not pay the rent this month. You cannot do that. The duty to pay rent under the lease and the landlord’s duty to repair are seperate contractual duties. That is why you find yourself being evicted. In Georgia, if the landlord does not make the repairs, you can make the repairs yourself and present your paid receipts for repairs to the landlord in lieu of part or all of the monthly rent if the repairs are extensive. If the rent is $1,000 and you made $500 in repairs you can submit $500 and the repair receipt. Just make sure that if you do this you have asked the landlord at least twice in writing and the landlord didn’t take action before you repair and deduct in case the landlord tries to evict you based on failure to pay rent.