DEAR JEFF: My wife and I had a water treatment system installed in our house, which does not work properly, and was not installed correctly according to the company’s own installation guide. We have discussed this with several representatives of the company, and have been told we are stuck. We have not paid for the system yet since it was set up on a credit card payment with no charge for one year. What happens if we refuse to pay it? Thanks, “Water, Water Everywhere”

Dear “Water, Water”: Since you paid with a credit card with a deferred charge, I would recommend that you contact your credit card company about reversing the charge until something is done to your satisfaction.

Depending on which credit card was used, the company will be required to respond to your complaints to your satisfaction or lose the sale.

Dear Jeff: My wife and I are currently dealing with a landord who will not properly address a mold issue in a bedroom. The last time we had a hard rain water apparently had seeped through and soaked the carpet along the wall. I had called a cleaning service to look and see what it would take to clean the mess up.

He stated this has been going on for a while and unless the drainage is fixed the problem will not be solved. He did write this down and we have this document. We contacted our landlord, who has admitted to my wife that the water was seepage. He wants to only clean the carpet, and not do anything to prevent this from happening again.

My wife is highly allergic to mold and has asthma, and this will make her sick. At this point, I just want out of my lease. I understand I would have to give her 30-day notice and not abandon the property, I just don’t want to be held responsible for paying the rest of my lease out, we have only lived here a short time and pay a high rent. Could you please let me know if we could get out of our lease? Thanks, “Not Feeling So Good”

Dear “Not Feeling So Good”: In every lease there is an “implied warranty of habitability.” What this means is that the premises must be able to be occupied safely by a reasonable person.

In your specific situation, the lessor owes you the duty to properly remedy the mold issue so that it does not pose a health risk to your family. If they are not willing to do that, then the lease can be broken.

If you want out of the lease, I would very clearly document every spot of mold, every correspondence or conversation with the landlord, and every conversation with any service person who comes to the house. I also would document your wife’s health issues. I would then give notice that you are vacating the property.

Now, this does not guarantee that the landlord will not try to recover the balance of the rent. You should also know that, if you move out, the landlord has a legal duty to mitigate damages by reletting the property as soon as possible. In other words, he cannot just let the property sit empty without trying to find a new tenant and collect the rent from you. He must try to find a new tenant.

Jeffrey Bates is licensed to practice law in the State of Texas, but is not board certified in any area of specialty by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

This column is meant for general information and educational purposes only, and neither this column nor the transmittal of a legal question via email constitutes the creation of an attorney/client relationship between the reader and Jeffrey Bates and/or Southern Newspapers Inc. For specific advice regarding legal matters affecting you, consult an attorney.

To submit a question, send it via email to, or via regular mail to Ask the Lawyer, 101 S. First St., Lufkin 75901, or call 639-2900.