Foreclosure complicates collection of back rent

Rent it Right

By Inman News Feed
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Apr. 7, 2011

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In other words, she loses her right to pay up quickly and avoid eviction. But these statutes apply only to late rent and the right to repeated pay-or-quit notices; they do not affect the tenant's ability to take advantage of legal protections.

Let's assume for now that the mold in your rental has made it unlivable (that's a whole other question). If you didn't cause it, and reasonable efforts on your part can't control it, you would have the option to move out without responsibility for future rent, or (depending on state law) to exercise your right to withhold the rent or repair the problem and deduct the cost of the repair from your rent. You would not, however, have a statutory right to an alternate unit.

So in a technical sense, your landlord's response is not illegal. The landlord could refuse your request for any reason other than a discriminatory one or a retaliatory one. That he has pointed to your poor rent-paying history as the basis for his decision is neither discriminatory (he hasn't refused because, for example, you're a woman), nor retaliatory (you haven't exercised any tenant rights by paying late).

Your best bet may be to take another tack: Point out to your landlord that the mold is dangerous and could result in injury to you. Perhaps he'll see the big picture and move you -- and deal with the moisture problem -- in order to avoid a potential lawsuit.

Janet Portman is an attorney and managing editor at Nolo. She specializes in landlord/tenant law and is co-author of "Every Landlord's Legal Guide" and "Every Tenant's Legal Guide." She can be reached at

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