Nadel & Ciarlo, P.C.

New York lease dispute: Hamptons' landlord hid mold problem

Short-term leases aren't any less binding than longer contracts. Many New York residents move to beach rental properties for the summer. A few days, weeks or months out of the city can be refreshing unless you run into a lease dispute.

A Long Island property owner is named in a lawsuit filed by a tenant who paid $106,000 to rent a Southampton home. The father of two was drawn to the property, in part because it had an outfitted playroom. The room is now at the center of a legal action.

The renter claims the day after his family moved into the residence in late June 2013, the toddler-age children kicked up a mat on the playroom floor. A dark area on the floor looked suspicious, later verified as mold by professional inspectors. The renters moved out.

The homeowner denied the problem was as big as the tenant made it out to be. The property owner stated he didn't know about the "spot" of mold but corrected the problem within 48 hours of learning about it. The landlord did not refund the tenant's money.

The lawsuit states the homeowner knew about the contamination and tried to disguise the mold by ordering an employee on the property to keep the playroom mats secured in place. The plaintiff claimed the landlord's failure to deal with and disclose the mold issue caused the tenant's daughter to develop allergies and created periodic insomnia for both children. The tenant wants the $90,000 rent and $16,000 in security deposits returned, plus $274,000 in damages.

Lease disputes have two sides, and it's not uncommon for parties to take matters into their own hands. Depending upon the nature of the disagreement, unhappy tenants withhold rent or frustrated property owners refuse to give back security deposits. Sometimes that resolves the problem but, quite often, taking action without legal guidance can make things worse.

Source: New York Daily News, "Hamptons summer rental subject of $380K lawsuit over moldy playroom cover-up" Dareh Gregorian, May. 21, 2014

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