Leasing a rental property has its advantages. It not only provides you flexibility if you want to live somewhere for a short period of time, it also frees you from maintenance liability.
But what if that liability is mold?
Finding mold in your apartment is a serious issue that requires action. Mold can cause significant health issues if not tested and remediated effectively. While not all mold is harmful, some mold is toxic and can have adverse health effects, including, but not limited to: asthma, fatigue, hemorrhaging and rashes. Mold in rental properties has been a pervasive issue that has led to multi-million dollar lawsuits, according to Nolo.com.
Mold Liability Undefined
Unfortunately, landlord responsibilities regarding mold are not always clearly spelled out in building codes, ordinances, statutes, or regulations. Furthermore, there are no federal laws to outline the permissible exposure limits for mold in residential buildings. This leaves the burden to state and local governments to set guidelines.
We strongly encourage you to familiarize yourself with the state and local laws regarding mold. We believe everyone has the right to know and understand the law for mold, especially in rental properties.
Other resources for mold law include your state department of environmental protection, your state department of public health, the mayor’s office, your city manager, and local health department.
Even though landlord responsibility regarding mold varies by state, landlords are still legally required to make sure your rental property is habitable. FindLaw.com defines a habitable property as one that “has adequate heating, water, electricity, cleanliness, and is structurally sound.” The exact laws that landlords must follow for rental properties vary by city and state.
Due to variations in the law, it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the local codes for rental properties. This knowledge is important to keep landlords accountable, and to make sure you are living in safe conditions.
As a tenant, you should be vocal and proactive about reporting maintenance issues to landlords. Taking action early when maintenance issues arise may help prevent mold growth. There are many conditions that can cause mold growth, but moisture is an essential ingredient. Keep an eye out for leaky pipes, windows and roofs. Also, notice if your apartment is excessively humid or a breeding ground for condensation from an air conditioner or exposed piping.If you notice any of these issues, report them immediately to your landlord.
Landlords may face a number of consequences if they fail to act on a maintenance request from a tenant. Depending on state laws:
- The tenant could withhold rent, or could pay less rent, until a repair is made.
- The tenant may hire an outside party to make the repairs, and the cost may be deducted from their next rent check.
- The tenant may contact local authorities regarding the issues if the problem violates health codes. The landlord may face fines or penalties.
- The tenant may move out of the property or end the lease agreement. The landlord may then face a “constructive eviction lawsuit.
While this does not constitute legal advice, and may not prevent mold growth, early detection and repair of moisture will help diminish the likelihood of mold growth in your residence. We do not recommend tenants attempt DIY mold removal.
Find out more about mold law in your state here. For questions specific about mold, call Mold Test USA at 1-877-701-2606. We would be happy to answer your mold questions to provide peace of mind.
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