Q&A: Withholding My Maintenance Fee After My Apartment Got Flooded

Q. My apartment was flooded four times with sewage, along with kitchen and bathtub pipes bursting. As a result, mold is everywhere in my apartment. The co-op board refused to do mold remediation except for the four sewage leaks in the kitchen; the bathtub and kitchen pipes were heavily infested. I refused to pay maintenance until the mold was remediated. The co-op went to court to evict me, and their complaint was dismissed. I went to civil court three times, and the court ruled in my favor, but the co-op refuses to carry out the mold remediation as ordered. 

Now they’ve repaired my apartment, but the mold issue remains. Am I obligated to moved back into my apartment even though I’m allergic to mold, and continue to withhold the maintenance fee until the mold is remediated and cleared?

                      —Exasperated Shareholder

A. “Mold, and toxic mold in particular, has been a growing problem for co-ops and shareholders alike,” says attorney Deborah B. Koplovitz of the Manhattan firm Anderson Kill P.C. “While most litigation involving mold has arisen in traditional landlord/tenant situations and not co-ops, there are two legal premises that seem to be relevant to your situation: 

“The first is a claim called constructive eviction. The second is a claim for the breach of the warranty of habitability.

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