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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: Dexterous on September 03, 2015, 04:27:50 PM

Title: Apartment Mold Issue - Lawsuit?
Post by: Dexterous on September 03, 2015, 04:27:50 PM
I discovered a significant amount of mold in my air conditioning unit within my apartment.  The cause is due to its faulty installation, including improper connection of a condensation draining pipe... and the entire thing is on a bad angle. 

My wife and I both got sick a few times in the past half year since living here, and the most recent trip to the doctor for her is what led me to find the mold.  The docs determined her coughing is due to an allergy, and I figured it must not be anything outdoors because we've been here about 2 years and haven't had issues prior.  I don't use toxic cleaning/hygiene products, so I figured it must be something else and searched until finding the mold.

The apartment is going to fix the problem tomorrow morning, but I'm wondering if I should press legal action.  I spoke with a military attorney today and they stated I have a valid case, but the decision is obviously up to me.  What are your thoughts? 

Notes:  I'm good financially and have free healthcare.  The apartment manager seemed to genuinely care about our health, but was slightly defensive with the matter (probably realizing they could be in legal trouble).
Title: Re: Apartment Mold Issue - Lawsuit?
Post by: ncornilsen on September 03, 2015, 04:38:51 PM
I don't know what the law entitles you to, but mold is a fact of life on planet earth. I don't think your landlord should be sued because you happened to be allergic to it, and it accumulated unknown to them, or to you.

And since they jumped right on fixing the issue I'd have to think they've done as much as they can.
Title: Re: Apartment Mold Issue - Lawsuit?
Post by: Chranstronaut on September 03, 2015, 04:59:18 PM
I suppose you could ask to have them reimburse any health expenses incurred due to the mold, but having seen some pretty lazy and reluctant landlords vs. mold in my past, it sounds like things are being handled well.

Whatever you decide to do, it sounds like it would be most fair to approach them directly about it before resorting to the court.  Like you said, you don't need the money and they have been attentive so far.  They might be responsive to your needs and then everyone saves time and money, as well as good attitudes.
Title: Re: Apartment Mold Issue - Lawsuit?
Post by: Cathy on September 03, 2015, 05:15:38 PM
The rules vary by jurisdiction, and you should retain counsel for an opinion on the legal claims that may be available in this situation. I can provide some general information but it is only general information that cannot be relied on.

Generally speaking, every residential lease is read as containing a covenant by the landlord to provide a habitable property. Breach of that covenant is actionable as breach of contract. Whether the presence of mold in the apartment violates that covenant would have to be researched, but it might. Once the landlord learns about unhabitable conditions, he may then be in breach of his covenant, even if he acts quickly to fix the problem. See, e.g., Knight v. Hallsthammar, 29 Cal.3d 46 (Ca Sup Ct 1981) (noting that "where, as here, a landlord has notice of alleged uninhabitable conditions not caused by the tenants themselves, a landlord's breach of the implied warranty of habitability exists whether or not he has had a 'reasonable' time to repair").

As mentioned, I can only provide general information, not advice on your specific situation. It sounds like you would benefit from a consultation with a lawyer to determine whether the case is worth pursuing.
Title: Re: Apartment Mold Issue - Lawsuit?
Post by: MishMash on September 03, 2015, 05:40:25 PM
Umm no.  You are obviously military so you incurred no out of pocket health expense.  Can you prove the landlord knew about the issue?  Did you report the issue to the landlord and he refused to fix it? Can you 100% prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that it was the mold in the AC that caused your issue?  Did you go to the apartment complex with the sickness issue before you found the mold?

It sounds like you got sick, thought it was mold, found mold and put two and two together with no actual testing/proof and now want a payout for it.
Title: Re: Apartment Mold Issue - Lawsuit?
Post by: Dexterous on September 04, 2015, 01:26:21 AM
I decided against pursuing any "payout".  :)  Thanks for the advice, and I've got a few answers to the above questions to end this discussion.

My wife has not had any health problems prior to moving to this particular apartment.  We eat healthy, exercise daily, keep the house clean, & free of toxic chemicals as previously mentioned.  The docs were informed of the mold finding, and presume that it is the cause of my wife's problem.  She actually has skin irritations that are consistent with the mold issue as well.  No, we didn't inform our apartment managers that we got sick prior to this week... I figured we just had some very bad luck with viruses or something.

As far as the landlord knowing about the issue, it's their duty to maintain the A/C and they just did an inspection 2 weeks ago.  The apartment manager informed me that the guy who did the inspection was fired last week.  There is no way that so much mold grew in the last week... so that maintenance guy apparently didn't do his job so well.  The current maintenance person is replacing my entire A/C unit this morning, along with the flooring that was ruined by water/mold damage.

I'm still slightly angry because of the improper A/C installation causing this whole problem, but am happy with the managers response to it.  At the end of the day, I just want my wife to be healthy and not have this allergy/cough problem.
Title: Re: Apartment Mold Issue - Lawsuit?
Post by: Dexterous on September 04, 2015, 01:30:04 AM
Also, thank you for the legal information Cathy.  I've read many of your posts, and you've helped a lot of people on this forum!