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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: bobsmiley on May 29, 2015, 12:11:38 AM

Title: moving out apartment is uninhabitable need help with negotiating breaking lease
Post by: bobsmiley on May 29, 2015, 12:11:38 AM
We've just moved into a new apartment in January. My wife hasn't felt good since coming here and now we know why. Maintenance came in and did a quick look at our upstairs. The floor has serious moisture problems, apparently the toilet has been leaking every flush since before we were here and now there's a serious mold issue. It starts with the upstairs floor and water damage goes all the way down into our kitchen. It looks like the problems have been painted over to look like they were non existent.

We're getting out and moving this weekend. To what extent should we negotiate with them? We're in the SF Bay Area and I'm looking at civil code 1942 for my tenant rights here - http://www.caltenantlaw.com/Habitability.htm.

They offered us no fees for breaking the lease, no rent overlap payment and no damages to fix carpeting and we'd sign away 1542 rights (not sure what these are they seem vague).

I'd like to negotiate moving costs in, potential loss of income (wife can't work over the move and is losing around $1200 income to rescheduled photography shoots) and potentially some sort of refund of rent.

What do you think? Am I being unreasonable? Fair? Not aggressive enough? In the past we've had serious apartment problems and I was just thankful to get out. I also don't want them to rescind the offer they made as it's saving us around $6000.

Thanks for any help in advance.


Title: Re: moving out apartment is uninhabitable need help with negotiating breaking lease
Post by: KungfuRabbit on May 29, 2015, 05:50:48 AM
Take their offer to cut and run. You'd have to sue to get more, which could take years and a big head ache.
Title: Re: moving out apartment is uninhabitable need help with negotiating breaking lease
Post by: SnackDog on May 29, 2015, 06:04:20 AM
Mold is a serious issue and can and should be addressed promptly.  However, if you have never smelled it (and even if you have) I would not assume it is the source of your wife's problems.  It may be the source (is she allergic to mold and showing symptoms) but then again may not.   Be aware you could end up moving and costing yourself a lot and she would still have issues if they are not due entirely to the mold.

We are battling a mold issue out our apt now.  The landlord is going a great job addressing it. I am allergic to mold and can smell it, but just avoid the affected areas until it is remediated.  I'm not having any allergies so far.
Title: Re: moving out apartment is uninhabitable need help with negotiating breaking lease
Post by: The_path_less_taken on May 29, 2015, 07:08:07 AM
Get out. Regardless of cost. (I got really sick from mold in Oregon...miserable crap.)

CA is pretty good about health issues and mold is potentially a health issue. Advise them in writing that "your legal obligation is to provide housing free of toxic substances: you've failed. I don't want to bring this up with the authorities and have to take this to court, but I will. Please have your attorney contact me." And document everything: date/time/who you spoke to/what was said.

That said...if you have pets it's gonna be tough renting in that area.

Good luck.

And: the mold remediation people in Oregon said that only highly concentrated alcohol kills mold: bleach never eradicates it, which was a shocker to me as I'd been so liberal with the Clorox. I'd wipe 100% on a windowsill and 5 days later it would have a layer of black fur...creeps me out to think about it.
Title: Re: moving out apartment is uninhabitable need help with negotiating breaking lease
Post by: mskyle on May 29, 2015, 08:23:13 AM
Talk to a local tenants rights' org, like the San Francisco Tenants Union (http://www.sftu.org/). Local information is going to be much more valuable to you than us randos.
Title: Re: moving out apartment is uninhabitable need help with negotiating breaking lease
Post by: gillstone on May 29, 2015, 09:03:18 AM
+1 on local tenant's union.
Title: Re: moving out apartment is uninhabitable need help with negotiating breaking lease
Post by: Mirwen on May 29, 2015, 09:18:10 AM
Your landlord is being pretty reasonable.  You might be able to negotiate a small amount toward moving costs.  However, I think that in order to get all the things you ask for, you'll probably have to sue.  Now that's going to cost you a lot more money and time and it will be very difficult to prove that the owner understood the extent of the problem.  If it were me, I'd ask for more, but try not to come off as demanding or unreasonable.  If the landlord is firm, I'd cut my losses and run.  Move on and let it go.  These things happen.  The tenants union can tell you what is typical in these cases and what rights you are losing by signing the contract. 
Title: Re: moving out apartment is uninhabitable need help with negotiating breaking lease
Post by: bobsmiley on May 29, 2015, 10:09:57 PM
okay thanks for the replies, we decided to sign and cut our losses based on the feedback here. We're moving tomorrow to a much nicer home and are very excited to get out with the terms offered.