In May of 2013, my fiance and I moved into a cute, two bedroom one bath house in Candler, NC. Our Landlord seemed like a very nice man. At the end of July, we started noticing mold on our clothes, and called to let our landlord know. He was on vacation and could not take our calls. During this time we started noticing more and more mold growth all over the house; the floors, walls, bathroom and guest bedroom were covered. We moved all of our furniture into a storage unit and moved into my mother's home for the time being, until the house could be eradicated of mold. We spoke to the landlord several times during this process, and each time he seemed to not fully grasp the severity of the situation, insisting that by buying a dehumidifier that the problem would be solved. He became increasingly agitated with the situation, outright telling us that if we wanted to move out and break the lease, we could hand over the keys right now upon asking for him to get someone to take care of the problem. By September the first, the problem seemed to have been solved - he hired someone to eradicate the mold from the dirt basement. We were required to do all of the cleaning of the house; mopping the walls and floors. He did not offer to pay for any of the cleaning and asked us to buy the dehumidifier. My fiance left him a message the week before the first, stating that we would pay for the four days that we lived in the house (prorated $20 a day,) and have the rent we paid for the month of August go towards the month of September. We never received a call back, so my fiance stopped by his office to pay the rent, giving him an envelope with the $80 and a note explaining the amount. The landlord went into a blind rage, crumpling up the money and throwing it at him, screaming "Fuck you! Fuck you! You can get out tomorrow! I'll burn the house down so you can't stay there! I'll bury you!" His wife quickly called us after he left and apologized profusely, telling us that the amount we paid was fine and that we are welcome to finish out the lease if we would like.
My question is, are we in a situation that we should break the lease immediately, and try to find a new rental? If so, how much are we liable for on the lease? Would it be worth our time to take the man to court if the situation arose?
1 Answer from Attorneys
First, unfortunately being an out of control jerk is not enough to sue for. His reaction to your finance was inappropriate but does not lead to a lawsuit.
If I were you, I would speak to the wife and negotiate a move out of the home with you owing nothing. Otherwise, you are on the hook for the rest of the lease, but there is no way you can continue to live there.