My landlord hired a company to remove mold from my apartment, and when I Googled the owners, I found that they had previously served jail time for tax fraud, and had been scolded by a judge for falsely certifying a lead abatement. Do I have the right of refusal if my landlord is using shady contractors? Can I choose a different company?
Legally speaking, you can't force your landlord to use a different company, according to our experts, with some limited exceptions.
"A landlord would have the right to control the means and methods of any repairs that are the landlord’s obligation to repair, under the terms of a lease or pursuant to applicable law," says Jeffrey Reich, partner at the law firm Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas LLP.
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Some judges have ruled in past cases that tenants must let in their landlord's contractors, even if they do poor work and make conditions worse, says Sam Himmelsten, a partner with the firm Himmelstein, McConnell, Gribben, Donoghue & Joseph LLP (a Brick sponsor, FYI). However, when it comes to mold remediation, you may have some recourse.
"A 2015 law requires that if a landlord hires a professional company to assess, remediate, or get post-remediation clearance testing, the companies must be licensed and separate (whoever does an assessment cannot do the cleanup)," Himmelstein says. "In that case, it is reasonable to confirm that the contractor is properly licensed when access is given."
This means that if you find the contractors your landlord hired are not properly licensed, you can legally request that he use a different company. But regardless of past shadiness, if the company has all the appropriate paperwork in place today, you may have to let the workers in despite your misgivings.
"A tenant could either ask a landlord to use a different service provider, and if such request is denied, could request that the tenant be allowed to retain their own service provider to perform the work," Reich says. That likely means paying up yourself, though, for a service that in other cases the landlord would be expected to cover.
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