Lease Termination by Tenant for Cause - Landlord response

4 posts in this topic

Spouse and I rented a pool home in Clark County, NV, in August 2012. Standard NV lease for 1 1/2 years. Landlord is out-of-state investor.

Lease has provision that we are responsible for minor repairs below the value of $60 (ok with that). We were asked to communicate to landlord via e-mail any time an issue - minor or major - came up. Since the beginning there have been loads of issues too numerous to mention. A major one still unresolved: leaky water valve for pool which floods the area any time pool is filled, causing our water bills to be abnormally right. Then, landlord asked us to pay for their home warranty service call fee of $60 each time there is a major problem. Since our tenancy began, we have paid $360 in these fees for the various issues. At all times, landlord was notified immediately about any issue we encountered. We have kept all e-mails, pictures and communications.

We noted our hot water was basically not available. We noted a leak around hot water heater. We notified landlord 10/22 about the leak and that we had called their home warranty and paid the $60 fee for a plumbing contractor sent by the warranty company. On 10/23, we notified landlord the plumber indicated the unit was in such a poor state of maintenance and so old (over 15 years of age and full of calcium deposits) that it needed to be replaced as soon as possible. In the same email we noted that the leak was causing mold growth in the tile grout and drywall by the water heater.

The water heater was finally replaced on 10/30, 5 business days after our email informing landlord the plumber indicated replacement was necessary. Throughout this time, hot water was basically non-existent.

On 11/15, we sent another email to landlord to again reiterate our concern with the mold and the terrible smell, asking that the problem be remedied as soon as possible. We attached pictures and we stressed that one of us has asthma. We also addressed other repair issues still unresolved. On 12/10, contractors came and replaced the moldy drywall, though we believe they may not have gotten the whole extent of the damage. Before the drywall was repaired, we took two test samples of the mold and submitted them to a certified lab for analysis.

During the holidays, we consulted with an attorney who advised us we had grounds to terminate the lease due to landlord's breach of various duties and covenants, suggesting that we wait for the mold report as well. Atty also suggested we'd find another place prior to terminating the lease in case landlord retaliated by changing locks etc.

On 1/8, we received the mold report, which indicated abundant concentrations of various types of mold (some of which can cause health effects in humans and/or pets), the most serious and concerning of which was a high concentration of stachybotrys, the infamous black mold.

On 1/9, we wrote an extensive e-mail quoting the Nevada statutes regarding habitability and the various ways the landlord breached our lease agreement. We gave the landlord a 30-day notice and offered to prorate the rent up until the end date. We also indicated we'd be out a couple of weeks sooner so that landlord could show the home to others. We requested that our security and pet deposits be returned within 30 days from lease end (as per Nevada).

On 1/10, the landlord responded by stating that we were the ones who breached the lease because we want to move and the issues have been repaired. Moreover, the landlord insisted that the time we had given was not sufficient for us to mitigate HIS damages. However, he'd agree to a termination date of April to keep it amicable.

We are now trying to respond to his ridiculous statement. We feel we don't have to mitigate his damages because he breached his duties and obligations. The fact that we are moving is not due to our willingness to spend extra money on moving expenses, security deposits, etc.; rather, the conditions they created by not remedying serious problems affecting habitability (i.e.; mold) within reasonable times are forcing us to move. We also believe 30 days are sufficient under the circumstances and we believe that we have been generous in offering prorated rent.

FYI: we have excellent jobs, credit profiles, and payment record. None of the issues is/was due to our conduct, our pets or guests.

Any ideas or thoughts?

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Update: though we didn't feel the need to respond to the landlord, since ours was a termination notice - not a request for negotiations - we submitted a response indicating that moving out was not our choice, but that we were forced to do so due to the landlord's multiple breaches. We quoted Nevada statutes verbatim and showed exactly - once again - why the landlord breached. We quoted Nevada statutes verbatim showing the landlord that our remedy of terminating the lease is fully allowed and that, while we are under no obligation to provide a courtesy notice or prorated rent, we do so out of courtesy. Hopefully they will get the message.

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First thought is your post is awfully long, with plenty of extraneous info, and that it's best not to bury the fact that you've consulted with counsel in the middle of it, and then more relevant info even farther down that indicates you could have skipped many preamble details. Why do you need extra thoughts above and beyond his/hers (a vague question)? You don't say.

"Then, landlord asked us to pay for their home warranty service call fee of $60 each time there is a major problem."

And given what you've said about lease, you're free to tell him to pound sand. That you didn't may or may not act as a waiver if you decide to tell him to pound sand on this henceforth.

Lack of hot water is a health/safety issue, as is mold growth. You're free to go after him in small claims for the value of the five days without hot water (though it doesn't sound like you decided to stay in a hotel).

Your choice if you choose to stay in a place with mold, whether one of you has asthma or not.

"Atty also suggested we'd find another place prior to terminating the lease in case landlord retaliated by changing locks etc."

I cannot fathom that an attorney would be worried about a landlord changing locks, since under the circumstances you could likely convince cops to assuage concerns of a locksmith who refused to change them again because the landlord was out of town and refused calls from cops to advise that unlawful lockouts are a problem.

"We are now trying to respond to his ridiculous statement."

You mean you're trying to figure out how to respond? If it's ridiculous, it stands alone. Not sure why you're worried about his counter-factual position.

You shouldn't have a problem getting deposit back if he didn't bother doing a decent job on mold remediation and doesn't care to do so.

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