MOLD * The "NEW" get out of lease CARD

Property Manager with Gibson Management Group, Ltd.

I just had one of my VERY FEW eviction cases go to trial a few weeks ago.  The tenants have a lease through November at $1595 per month...his mother is ill in WVa and he wanted out of his lease early so they could relocate to care for her.   He advised me he wanted out of his lease for this reason and I offered him the options outlined in his Resident Handbook - locate his own replacement residents and pay me $400 to re-write the lease paperwork OR hire me to find replacement residents and pay me my one-half of one month's leasing commission and he is responsible for the lease, yard maintenance and utiity costs until new residents move in.

He did not like either option so he did not pay his July rent.  Since I knew he was leaving the area mid-August, I proceeded to file an eviction suit for July, 2008 rent AND a companion Small Claims court case for the VA max of $5,000 for the accelerated rent through the balance of their lease....SURPRISE!!! 

When my process server served the court paperwork, the tenant advised him that I had "tried to kill him and his wife".  When I heard this, I had NO CLUE what he was referring to.  I had just had a working HVAC system replaced to be more efficient.  The home was completely rennovated prior to their moving in last paint, professionally cleaned INCLUDING the windows inside and out.  The attorney/professor owners had left for SoCal and want to retain the property as an investment.  NOBODY WAS TRYING TO KILL THEN.

At the "return" court date in August, he mentioned mold at the property.  I talked to the HVAC service firm that replaced thei equipment and checked the photos of the old equipment that was removed - no MOLD.

Since he wanted a "trial" I prepped my attorney for the "mold" issue being raised at the property the hearing.  Luckily, the judge has heard this before....he wanted copies of the residents' medical reports - the tenant said they did not have money to go to the doctor * completely ignoring the fact that they had not paid rent for 2 months - $3,000 would buy a lot of doctor visits.  The residents had no evidence of communication with me regarding mold nor did they have any third-party inspection evidence of mold at the property. 

Long story short, I won and the tenant has vowed to appeal his loss which has not happened. 

In anticipation of this "defense in court" I had printed a copy of the Johns Hopkins Health Alert 9 Common Mold Myths and had it in my "court" folder.  Anyone anticipating or involved in a "mold issue" should have this publication in their file.



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  1. Jane Nicastro-Disch 12/08/2009 08:28 AM
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Robert Machado
HomePointe Property Management, CRMC - Sacramento, CA
CPM MPM - Property Manager and Property Management

Mold is one of the many methods tenants use to avoid paying rent.  It is a good one if they can come up with an inspector to back them up.  Otherwise this defense is not so good.

Sep 28, 2008 02:37 AM #1
Leslie Prest
Leslie Prest, Prest Realty, Sales and Rentals in Payson, AZ - Payson, AZ
Owner, Assoc. Broker, Prest Realty, Payson,

Yeah, we hear this occasionally. We once had a tenant calling dirt mold. It was on the outside of a wall IN DIRECT SUNSHINE.

Sep 28, 2008 12:53 PM #2
Pat Mulligan
RE/MAX Peninsula - Newport News, VA

Thanks for info on JH report, Wallace.  I think I might be dealing with this soon. 



Oct 03, 2008 08:00 AM #3
Stella Barbour
NoVa Brokers LLC - Vienna, VA
Principal Broker, Serving Virginia and Maryland

this happened to my cousin with her rental.  After the tenants couldn't afford the rent they cried mold and lost their case too and they had to pay my cousin's legal fees.

Oct 07, 2008 08:37 PM #4
Ritu Desai
Samson Properties - Ashburn, VA
Virginia Realtor-Fairfax/Loudoun/PW-703-625-4949

WOW thanks for sharing. I did not know tenants were abusing this to get out of the lease.

Oct 10, 2008 01:37 PM #5
Carol Judd
Patriot Real Estate - Vernal, UT
Vernal Utah Real Estate

I hate mold but renters can be a problem also.

Oct 10, 2008 07:42 PM #6
Josh Holt
RE/MAX Coast To Coast~ Dedicated to You! - Berwick, ME
Southern Maine and NH Real Estate - Your Source of Info on the Berwicks

Great info. How did you keep the pictures? Hard copies in a folder, or a database?

Jan 13, 2009 07:53 PM #7
Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA

Josh - I keep CURRENT PROPERTY (properties I still manage them) on 8G travel/jump drive with archive for year 2006, 2007, etc. on my office laptop hard drive.  I have redundant system on my home laptop so I can copy/paste from the current travel drive.

I'll print for court, deposit return documentation, etc. otherwise, I don't keep hard copies as they take up too much space in files.

Jan 14, 2009 06:14 AM #8
Josh Holt
RE/MAX Coast To Coast~ Dedicated to You! - Berwick, ME
Southern Maine and NH Real Estate - Your Source of Info on the Berwicks

Thanks. I thought I read it in one of your posts, but what do you use for software. I'm just starting to collect some units, and would rather copy from your success than through my own trial and error. Thanks again for the blog, this stuff is great!

Jan 14, 2009 11:57 AM #9
Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA


Jan 14, 2009 12:02 PM #10
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Wallace S. Gibson, CPM


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