News & Insights

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR LANDLORD REFUSES TO REMOVE MOLD

I represent a lot of residential tenants who discover mold in their leased apartment or house. Unfortunately, I see the following problem frequently: Imagine that you lease an apartment for a one year term. In your second month, you discover mold within the apartment. You notify the landlord of the mold, but the landlord refuses to remove the mold. What can you do?

Many of my clients want to pack their things and exit the property before the lease term ends. But wait: it is possible that breaking the lease early will harm the tenant’s credit, or cause the tenant to be liable for future rent payments.

Alternatively, many of my clients want to stop paying rent until the landlord remediates the mold. But this can create a serious problem. In North Carolina, there is a statute stating that a “tenant may not unilaterally withhold rent prior to a judicial determination of a right to do so.” N.C. Gen. Stat. 42-44(c). In other words, arguably a tenant cannot refuse to pay rent because of a landlord’s failure to provide a safe home. That said, there is some case law arguably providing that, if a tenant withholds rent, the dangerous state of the leased premises may serve as a defense to an eviction action. Surratt v. Newton, 99 N.C. App. 396, 393 S.E.2d 554 (1990) (Greene, J., concurring).

Clients in this situation are between a rock and a hard place: their apartment is dangerous, the landlord refuses to help, but the tenant may be penalized if they leave the apartment.

This is an example of a situation in which you need an attorney. Depending on the facts of your situation, it may be advisable to file a lawsuit to force the landlord to remove the mold. But in other circumstances, it may be best to just leave the premises. As always, the correct approach depends upon the specific circumstances. You need an experienced attorney to advise you on your options.

If you believe your home has been contaminated with mold, I would be happy to meet with you. There is no charge for the first meeting.

Matthew D. Quinn, 919-754-1600, matt@attybryanbrice.com

Construction litigation in Raleigh – Toxic mold contamination attorneys in Wake CountyPersonal injury law firm serving the Triangle

WHAT IS “TOXIC MOLD”?

If you find mold in your home, it should be removed. The mold could spread and damage your home. In some circumstances, the mold could even cause personal injuries to you and your family.

But do not be too alarmed—mold is not always toxic. Whether the mold can injure you depends on many circumstances.

When examining whether a home is contaminated with toxic mold, experts tend to compare mold spore counts indoors to the outdoors. If the amount of mold spores outdoors exceeds the level of mold indoors, your home is probably not contaminated. However, if the mold levels indoors greatly exceed those outdoors, then the indoor air quality may be dangerous. Experts also compare the concentration of specific types of mold. For example, if the outdoor air contains very little of a specific type of mold, but the indoor air has lots of a specific type of mold, it may be a problem. Of course, these rules may be altered if you have an allergy to a specific mold within your home.

If you believe your home has been contaminated with mold, I would be happy to meet with you. There is no charge for the first meeting.

Matthew D. Quinn, 919-754-1600, matt@attybryanbrice.com

Construction litigation in Raleigh – Toxic mold contamination attorneys in Wake CountyPersonal injury law firm serving the Triangle

DO INSURANCE POLICIES COVER TOXIC MOLD?

It happens regularly. A client suspects their home (or office) is contaminated with mold, so the client hires me to investigate. We perform an investigation and discover dangerous levels of mold. Therefore we hire an indoor air quality expert to assemble a mold remediation plan. After additional investigations, we identify and locate the person responsible for causing the mold growth. The next step is to demand that the responsible party fixes the mold problems. Unfortunately, the responsible party has no money, so they make a claim on their insurance policy. Here is where the major problem arises: the insurance company claims that the insurance policy does not cover claims for damages caused by mold. Is the client out of luck?

Not necessarily. Frequently insurance companies interpret their policies very restrictively, allowing them to exclude coverage for damages that a careful reading of the policy demonstrates are actually covered. Moreover, many insurance policies are poorly drafted so that it is not clear whether coverage exists for toxic mold cases. In that event, North Carolina courts interpret ambiguous insurance policies in favor of coverage.

If an insurance company says that your mold claim is not covered, please call me. I have helped many families and businesses with this issue. It is frequently possible to fight the insurance company and find coverage for your mold claim.

If you find yourself in this circumstance, I would be happy to meet with you. There is no charge for the first meeting.

Matthew D. Quinn, 919-754-1600, matt@attybryanbrice.com

Construction litigation in Raleigh – Toxic mold contamination attorneys in Wake CountyPersonal injury law firm serving the Triangle

MOLD CONTAMINATION IN AN APARTMENT

I receive calls every week from families that have leased an apartment that turns out to contain mold. Oftentimes the landlord or property manager will remove the mold promptly, and all is well.

But what happens if the landlord or property manager will not remove the mold? Or, what if the tenant or a member of the tenant’s family develops injuries from the mold? Can the tenant force the landlord or property manager to remove the mold and pay money damages for the personal injuries? Frequently the answer is “yes.”

If you lease a residential apartment, you have rights. For example, the North Carolina General Statutes state that you are entitled to a habitable apartment that is free of “imminently dangerous conditions.” N.C. Gen. Stat. 42-42(a)(8). The statutes expressly state that “mold” is an example of a “dangerous condition” that makes an apartment uninhabitable. Therefore, if your apartment has dangerous levels of mold, the landlord has a duty to remove the mold and pay for damages caused by the mold.

Sometimes I see tenants who notify the landlord or property manager that their apartment contains mold, but the tenants do not provide written notice. It is extremely important that you provide your landlord with written notice of the existence of mold. In many circumstances, the North Carolina General Statutes require written notice.

If you find yourself in this circumstance, I would be happy to meet with you. There is no charge for the first meeting.

Matthew D. Quinn, 919-754-1600, matt@attybryanbrice.com

Construction litigation in Raleigh – Toxic mold contamination attorneys in Wake CountyPersonal injury law firm serving the Triangle