Landlords are urged to take mold seriously under Massachusetts law. Long term exposure to black mold is potentially harmful to health and may cause a wide range of symptoms and consequences, specially for people with lung diseases or weakened immune systems.
Regardless of the provisions of a written lease agreement, landlords in Massachusetts are bound by “implied warranty of habitability.” This legal doctrine requires the landlord to provide tenants with apartments in livable condition. Tenants in Massachusetts have the right to pursue two common legal self-help strategies.
The first, known as “rent withholding,” is when tenants stop paying rent, claiming the mold has made their apartment uninhabitable. The second strategy, known as “repair and deduct,” involves tenants taking care of mold cleanup or a pest control issue will be taken care on their own and then subtracting the cost from their rent.
Several conditions need to be met under Massachusetts law for these options to be legal. For example, most rent withholding laws do not permit you to withhold rent, if you are behind in the rent or in violation of a relevant lease clause. You also must report the problem and give your landlord a reasonable opportunity to fix the issue. Additionally, the problem must be severe, not just annoying, and must imperil your health or safety.
Tenants who believe they have been harmed by the presence of high concentrations of mold in their apartment can try to recover damages from their landlord in court to compensate them for their loss. For help regarding harmful mold, give our legal team a call.