Can a landlord legally rent with the option to buy, sell or even rent it to me without disclosing black mold?

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Can a landlord legally rent with the option to buy, sell or even rent it to me without disclosing black mold?

I was in a rent with option to buy property. I kept getting sick and so was my girlfriend and as I was getting ready to remodel the basement, I moved some paneling that was on the wall and the inside was covered in black mold about knee high all throughout the basement walls. So I moved out and now he’s threatening me and that I owe for rent and the water bill for the 2 months after I moved out.

Asked on April 17, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

The issue is whether the landlord knew, or under the circumstances, reasonably must have known (essentally, any landlord in their specific circumstances would have known) of the mold. It is fraud to fail to disclose an important or "material" condition known to the landord; fraud provides grounds to void, or get out of, a contract without penalty. But the key is, you have to be able to show the landord's knowledge.
If the landlord did not know (as might. be the case if the landlord was not in fact living there), then he had no obligation to disclose--you can't disclose that of which you are not aware. And this means that the landlord would not have committed fraud. If he did not commit fraud, you would be locked into the contract and he could sue you for the rent and utilities you owe.


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