Homeless Because of Mold

Wendy and her husband have been renting a home for seven months. They discovered a mold issue in October and notified the landlord. The landlord is releasing them from their lease but not prorating the rent.

QUESTION: Wendy in Nashville and her husband have been renting a home for seven months. They discovered a mold issue in October and notified the landlord. However, the landlord has done nothing to resolve the issue. He’s releasing them from their lease but not prorating the rent. Dave suggests a compromise.

ANSWER: You ought to split it. Just compromise and split it. You were going on vacation for a week anyway. You stayed one extra week because of the mold. He’s not obligated for those two weeks. A fair thing would be the one week—the extra one—and then move on.

He’s releasing you from the lease because you don’t have a place to live because of the mold—complete release. What would be the proration? January is the only thing up in the air. After January, you’re not on the hook at all. When the work is done doesn’t matter. It’s only when you quit getting use of the house. That’s the only question. The only question is whether you’re getting back three weeks for January or four weeks.

If you want to seek an attorney’s opinion, that might be a good idea. What I would say is if you were my tenant, I would say you’re out of the lease. I’ve got a mess I’ve got to clean up. I’ll re-rent the house when it’s done. You’re on your own. I’ll let you go. You don’t have to live here, but since you don’t have to pay rent, you’ve got to go find a place to live and pay rent there—hotel, house, whatever you want to do. I’m going to not charge you rent after X date. That’s the date that you’ve got to settle on. If you want to argue over a week in court, you can. I wouldn’t. I’d just be happy I got out and the guy is being reasonable and you’re talking to him and go. But I don’t think he’s obligated to pay for the hotel personally. He might be legally, but I’m just thinking you’d have a hard time getting it out of me. I would just not charge you rent and let you free because the house is a mess. But if you want to seek legal advice, you’d have to do that from an attorney.

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