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Dealing with mold problems: tenants’ rights under the warranty of habitability, P.2

Last time, we began looking at the how tenants can potentially address mold problems under the warranty of habitability. As we noted, the warranty of habitability requires landlords to maintain leased property in safe and livable condition, and tenants are able to enforce the warranty in court as long as they aren’t personally responsible for the mold damage through their own negligence.

One remedy that may be available to a tenant whose landlord fails to uphold the warranty of habitability is rent abatement. This refers to a reduction in rent payments due to the landlord because of the landlord’s failure to carry out his or her legal duties. A tenant who is entitled to rent abatement is able to receive an amount of damages equal to the difference between the fair rental value of the property in an unwarranted condition and the fair rental value of the property in a warranted condition. 

An award for rent abatement, however, may not be larger than the total amount of rent paid by the tenant. In addition to rent abatement, tenants may also be entitled to special and consequential damages.

A second legal claim that can be brought for mold problem is to sue a landlord under the Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act for knowingly renting a property in an uninhabitable condition. Under this theory, a landlord must not charge rent for a dwelling the landlord knows is uninhabitable or has reason to know is uninhabitable. Attorney fees and treble damages are available in such cases, so it is important for tenants who have been harmed property which is uninhabitable due to mold problems which may have been knowingly undisclosed to seek the advice and advocacy of experienced legal counsel when seeking remedies in court. 

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