As consumers and professionals in regards to real estate, it is important to stay informed about the latest legal developments in the industry. Recently, attorneys Iverson Matthew Jackson, Esq. and Christopher J. Perry, Esq. represented a tenant in a landlord-tenant lawsuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court in downtown Los Angeles, California. The case sheds light on the importance of understanding tenant rights and landlord responsibilities specifically when it comes to the issue of mold contamination.
What Went Wrong
The case involved a tenant who had been living in an apartment for several years who started suffering from numerous respiratory ailments, including asthma and more frequent asthma attacks, sinusitis, allergies, coughing and skin rashes, soon after she moved into the apartment. She often made complaints to the landlord or property manager that her apartment smelled like garbage and it became worse in the summer months. It was, also, alleged in the case that the landlord knew and failed to disclose to the tenant that her apartment had been contaminated with mold during the previous tenant’s lease term, which is a violation of the law not to inform a prospective or current tenant of a mold condition in the apartment or at the building. (See, Health & Safety Code § 26147 [“[R]esidential landlords shall provide written disclosure to prospective and current tenants of the affected units […] when the residential landlord knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, that mold, both visible and invisible or hidden, is present that affects the unit or the building […].”]).
A Doctor’s Diagnosis
After approximately 5 years, one of the tenant’s doctors finally mentioned that she could be suffering from toxic mold exposure based on her ailments. The tenant went home and retained a mold testing company to analyze her apartment. That testing company found that her apartment had elevated levels of toxic mold, i.e. Penicillium/Aspergillus, that can be highly toxic to humans. The tenant then immediately notified the landlord of the positive toxic mold finding. Although the landlord agreed to remediate her apartment, the landlord refused to take all the necessary steps and precautions to completely remediate the apartment. The landlord hired a mold remediation company to clean up the apartment, but told that company not to remediate the tenant’s property inside the apartment against the company’s recommendations. That is a violation of mold remediation guidelines because the mold can just re-contaminate her apartment or continue to make her sick since her belongings were not properly cleaned.
Attorneys Jackson and Perry were hired by the tenant to represent her in court. The attorneys argued that the landlord had violated several civil laws, including California’s implied warranty of habitability (this law requires landlords to provide tenants with a safe and habitable living environment), private nuisance, negligence, concealment, fraudulent misrepresentation and breach of contract. The lawsuit sought money damages for the tenant’s pain and suffering, emotional distress and punitive damages caused by the landlord’s wrongful conduct. The case was settled out of court, with the landlord agreeing to pay damages to the tenant. This outcome highlights the importance of understanding tenant rights and landlord responsibilities when it comes to maintaining rental properties. As a real estate professional, it is essential to be aware of all local laws and regulations regarding landlord-tenant relationships. This includes understanding the requirements for maintaining rental properties and responding to tenant complaints about maintenance issues. Additionally, it is important to have a solid understanding of how to handle disputes between tenants and landlords. In some cases, it may be necessary to involve legal representation to ensure that tenants are able to exercise their rights and receive fair treatment from their landlords. Overall, Attorneys Jackson and Perry’s recent tenant-landlord lawsuit serves as a reminder of the importance of maintaining rental properties and upholding tenants’ rights. By staying informed and educated about these issues, real estate professionals can better serve their clients and ensure that everyone involved in a rental agreement is treated fairly.
About The Attorneys
- The Iverson Matthew Jackson Law Firm, PC: Iverson Matthew Jackson is dedicated to representing people who have been wronged, injured or suffered damages by the hands of others, whether the “other” is a person, a company or a governmental agency. Too many times the people who have suffered at the hands of others have been ignored or silenced, and our job is to help you find your story and voice. We magnify your story and voice to the decision makers – the court and the jury – who will ultimately make the decisions that will effect your life and livelihood. As such, it is important to present your story and voice effectively so that the right decisions can and will be made to maximize your recovery.
- The Perry Law Firm: Christopher Perry is a 2002 graduate of the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University. Civil and Business Litigation have been my primary areas of practice representing both individuals and corporate clients. I have served as, and been approved by the California Superior Court as, Class Counsel on multiple class action matters. Additionally, I have represented over 100 professional football athletes in relation to Worker’s Compensation Claims.
Reference Publications or URLs:
1. California Department of Consumer Affairs – Landlord-Tenant Information
2. California Department of Public Health, “Mold or Moisture in My Home: What Do I Do?”
3. Iverson Matthew Jackson Law Firm, PC
5. Los Angeles Homes for Sale