I recently discovered toxic mold in my apartment. Am I allowed to withhold rent until the mold is removed?

Landlords are urged to take mold seriously under Massachusetts law. Mold is considered a top environmental concern which can grow quickly.

Regardless of what may appear in a written lease agreement, landlords in Massachusetts are bound by “implied warranty of habitability.” This is a legal doctrine that requires providing 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 decide to 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 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, regarding most rent withholding laws you cannot withhold rent if you are behind in the rent or in violation of a relevant lease clause. You are also required to report the problem and give 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.