If you rent a home or apartment unit, and if you discover mold, you may wonder what, if anything, you can do to ensure your landlord assumes liability. Unfortunately, as a New Jersey renter, the answer is, not much.
Research indicates that mold exposure, especially in young children, can have adverse health effects. Mold, if pervasive enough, can also cause significant damage to renters’ personal property. Despite these truths, New Jersey lacks any laws or substantial protections for renters who live with mold. This being the case, you may wonder what options you have when you find mold growth in your apartment or rental home.
According to NJ.com, rent withholding is the first legal remedy you can try to convince your landlord to deal with a mold issue. You may argue that your landlord broke the lease by failing to remove the mold and, therefore, caused the unit to become uninhabitable. If you choose to go this route, you would notify your landlord in writing of your claim and inform him or her that you plan to withhold rent until he or she remedies the issue.
Repair and deduct
If your landlord fails to make the necessary repairs even after you begin to withhold rent, you may wish to make the repairs yourself. However, you should not have to pay for them. Ideally, you would use the rent money you already withheld to cover the cost of remediation. If the situation is dire, though, you may decide to pay for it out of pocket. In either case, you should notify your landlord of your decision to remediate the mold on your own and request that he or she deduct the cost from the rent due.
Whether you decide to withhold rent or go the repair and deduct route, it is very likely that your landlord will initiate eviction proceedings. If he or she does, a judge will ultimately decide who is financially liable for the cost of mold remediation. In most cases, judges place the burden upon the landlord.