Shopping for Your Home

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Do you have a MOLD & MILDEW clause in your rental agreement?

Dear Ruben,

I am having an issue with mold and mildew in my apartment for many months and have contacted my landlord. He still has not fixed the problem stating he is too busy. What can I do? Can I withhold rent until it's fixed or get it fixed and deduct from rent?

The first thing you must do is check your rental agreement for a MOLD and MILDEW clause. Unfortunately we here in Florida have climate conducive to the growth of mold and mildew and it's necessary to provide adequate ventilation and dehumidification. The clause usually states the tenant agrees to properly ventilate and dehumidify the unit and that the landlord will not be responsible for damages to the premises or tenant's personal property due to mold and mildew.

Now, indoor air quality complaints for apartments and hotels are regulated as public lodging establishments by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation's Divisions of Hotels and Restaurants. I would strongly advise you to first file a complaint with the DBPR by calling 850-487-1395 or online.

As far as your landlord's responsibilities, he is to comply with all applicable building, housing and health codes, so a complaint filed with the DBPR will start the ball rolling.

The Florida real estate law concerning withholding rent is as follows:

Providing that the lease or rental agreement is silent on the procedure of repairs and maintenance and that the responsibility is solely your landlord's you first must give written notice giving a minimum of 20 business days to complete (include an exact date to be completed). I STRONGLY suggest notice be sent certified mail with return receipt!!!
If no action is taken by the landlord, my advice would be to again give written notice by certified mail and return receipt advising the landlord that the rent is being placed with the registry of the court. This will offset eviction if your landlord chooses to evict you for non payment of rent.

Here are some links that may be of help...

Indoor Mold and Health

Tenants Rights, Laws and Protections

Good Luck and please contact me with any other questions or concerns @