The word mold is very subjectable, and misused. Unless it has been tested otherwise, it is not legally considered mold. That said, if there is water infiltration into the basement the landlord is responsible to cure.
That said, the tenant can be charged for issues not cared for. EXAMPLE: A lot of basement water infiltration issues are caused by clogged gutters & downspouts. In most leases in Virginia, tenants are responsible for this. Therefore, while the landlord must remediate, the costs can then be pushed on to the tenant.
Be careful with quoting codes. A lot of codes are subject to the Virginia Landlord Tenant Act which is used as guidelines in the courts. However, only landlords with four or more properties are subject to it.
The Virginia Maintenance Code does require a landlord to maintain a property, but is subject to the tenant properly caring for the property. There are limits.
With regard to the statement of "if you don't like the terms..don't sign", to a point is correct. However, a Judge would not stand for it. Both tenant and landlord have rights, and the court system will uphold the law regardless of what was agreed to.
This is is quite common among for rent by owners. They want to put all of the responsibly on the tenant to repair " There House". The questions is, "is it legal". The landlord can pretty much say anything if all parties agree to it. However,The landlord must comply with the requirements of applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety. Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing,
sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and other facilities and appliances,
including elevators. These are the landlords responsibility.
Bottomline is never rent from anyone who is asking for you the tenant to fix anything the breaks not as a result of tenant negligence. Again, this not unusual with for rent by owners. This is why many do there own rentals because they can sometimes get away with this type of language. Always use a professional to find a rental. These are homes listed with professional property management companies or that use a Real Estate company that must use leases that comply with Virginia State Law and Fair Housing Requirements.
Fairfax County has a complaint page on their website for property issues as well as tenant-landlord issues. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/complaints/
I am happy there are folks like you who bring this to peoples' attention. Some owners are simply difficult and uncoachable.
Erik J. Weisskopf,ABR,CDPE,CRS,GRI
Re/Max Distinctive Real Estate, Inc.
Your concern admirable. However when a person takes on the responsibility of renting a property they are liable to
whatever terms are listed in the lease.
Its best to fully inspect a property prior to renting.