If I am being treated for toxic mold exposure/poisoning causes by my rental, can i break my lease and still get back my security deposit?

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If I am being treated for toxic mold exposure/poisoning causes by my rental, can i break my lease and still get back my security deposit?

I have been very ill for almost 4 weeks now. I am being treated for mold exposure. Our (rental) house has all the signs of mold (humidity, past sewage backup in flooring, smell, etc). However, I am unable to talk my landlord into having the home professionally tested/treated. He wants to treat the mold himself (with bleach). I am in 1 year lease (expires in 5 months). I am tired of being sick and it’s costing a lot of money and time out of work. What should I do next? If I move out do I have the right to my deposit?

Asked on July 13, 2011 under Real Estate Law, South Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

All leases have what's known as the "implied warranty of habitability," which is the obligation that the landlord maintain the premises in such shape and condition that they can safely be used for their intended purpose--e.g. for residence. A breach of this warranty can give the tenant grounds to terminate the lease without penalty; it may also be the basis for monetary compensation (e.g. a rent abatement, including a retroactive one; or medical costs) or for a court order forcing the landlord to deal with the unhealthy condition. You should consult with an attorney before doing anything, however; terminating the lease, if done improperly, can result in you being liable; and an attorney can advise you as to any compensation you may be due, and help you get it. Good luck.


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