Health Problems Associated With Black Mold
Mold, a microscopic fungus that grows in very damp settings, has been identified under Article 11, section 581 of the San Francisco Health Code as a health nuisance. Like all forms of mold, black mold has many health problems associated with it, including the following:
- Mental impairment
Reasons You Can Sue Your Landlord
State specific laws will again come into play. In general, you may be able to file a lawsuit against your landlord for the following reasons.
Allows Your Unit To Become Uninhabitable
Your landlord must keep his units inhabitable. That means providing common services for normal living conditions. This includes heat and running water. If you have an issue with these, you should talk to your landlord. If he refuses to respond appropriately, you usually have the right to notify him that you will withhold rent or move out if the issue is not resolved. You may also sue for this negligence.
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What Should I Do If I Find Black Mold In My Rental Unit
First step: dont panic. It might not even be black mold.
The second step is to figure out what type of mold it is. If youve been suffering from unexplained health issues, this becomes even more imperative. Contact your landlord as soon as you discover mold, and do so via letter so theres a written record. You might need to refer to that later, should the situation progress to litigation.
Even if you havent fallen ill, toxic black mold is a violation of the implied warranty of habitability. As such, your landlord is responsible for rectifying the problem.
Of course, your landlord may choose to fight you. They might say its up to you to test the air and pay for an inspection. Many landlords take it upon themselves to pay for inspection, but sometimes you have to do it yourself and show them a professional report that clearly says, TOXIC BLACK MOLD FOUND HERE.
If a landlord refuses to pay for a mold inspection, it opens them up to additional liability down the road.
Does California Law Require Landlords To Disclose Mold
According to California Health and Safety Code § 26147, landlords are required to present tenants with a mold disclosure, in writing, before a lease is signed. Furthermore, according to a recommendation made in Sept 2011, even if there are underlying moisture issues, or just a moldy smell in the building, landlords are strongly encouraged to take immediate action to resolve the issue, including hiring a mold remediation company.
Its worth noting that there is no federally mandated law regarding mold disclosure for landlords. The state of California recognizes that mold poses a serious health risk, and has therefore mandated it with state mold disclosure laws.
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Reach Out To Your Landlord
The first thing to do when a problem arises is to communicate with your landlord. If you are still living in the unit, you have an ongoing relationship with your landlord and maintaining that relationship is important.
If your landlord has not returned your security deposit, you will want to reach out to them and ask them why.
- Most of the time your landlord will agree to return your full security deposit . Note, a few days delay in returning your security deposit is usually not enough to be considered “bad faith” under California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1950.5.
- If your landlord tells you they have deducted money from your security deposit, remind them that they have to provide you with an itemized statement of the deductions within 21 days California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1950.5. Review the itemized statement and if anything stands out to you, ask them about it!
- Remember, if something is normal wear and tear, your landlord cannot deduct it from your security deposit.California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1950.5. It can be hard to determine what is considered normal wear and tear.
If your landlord doesn’t agree to return your security deposit, then it might be time to escalate the situation.
Benefits Of Suing Your Landlord
Filing a lawsuit does have some potential advantages for tenants.
- Could Motivate a Landlord to Settle Outside of Court: Notifying your landlord of your intention to sue him or her could motivate your landlord to do everything in their power to avoid actually going to court. He or she may agree to settle with you before the matter ever goes before a judge.
- Receive Money You Are Owed: If you sue your landlord and win, you will be awarded the money you are owed, possibly more. For example, if your landlord wrongfully withheld your security deposit, you will be awarded this amount, and in some states, two or three times this amount.
- Receive Damages: If you win a court case against your landlord, you may also receive damages. For example, if your unit was uninhabitable, you could be awarded damages for any pain and suffering it caused you.
- Ability to Stay in Your Apartment: If you file suit against your landlord for a wrongful eviction and win, you will not be forced to move from your apartment.
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Can I Sue My Landlord For Black Mold Exposure In My Apartment
If youre subjected to any type of mold exposure, you should be concerned. When toxic black mold is involved you should be even more alarmed, due to its reputation for causing illness. If you have mold in your apartment, you will want to know whether you can sue your landlord for any harm youve suffered.
Illegal Clauses In Your Lease Agreement
Landlords are not free to make up lease agreements with any clauses that go against the landlord-tenant laws in your state and are illegal. If, for example, you own a service animal, it is allowed under the Federal Fair Housing Act. Your landlord cannot refuse to allow you to keep your service animal.
Your landlord cannot put in clauses that absolve him from making needed repairs to the property. And he cannot put in a clause that empowers him to force you to move out any time he wishes.
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The Small Claims Court Hearing
Once you file your small claims lawsuit, you will get a hearing date scheduled anywhere between 30-70 days later. During this time, your landlord may call you to try and settle the case. If you come to an agreement, you can close your small claims lawsuit.
To prepare for yoursmall claims court hearing:
- Prepare what to say. During the hearing, the judge will ask you why you are suing your landlord and how you calculated the amount you are owed. You want to make sure you start with a broad statement like this: “Your honor, I am suing my landlord in small claims court today because they failed to return by $3,000 security deposit. Then go into the details.
- Get your receipts for costs ready. For example, your filing fees and any process server costs. Make sure to let the judge know that you would like to be reimbursed for these costs.
- Print enough copies of all your evidence. You will need at least three copies of your evidence .
Are attorneys allowed in small claims court?
- Attorneys are not allowed to represent you or your landlord at the initial hearing. If your landlord loses the small claims lawsuit and appeals then attorneys are allowed to represent the parties at the appeal hearing.
The Landlord Has Not Fixed A Water Leak Or Remediated Visible Mold
In this instance, you may be wondering how long a landlord has to fix a mold problem after a tenant has called attention to it. Although there is no established time frame, if the landlord delays fixing the issue, it will get much worse.
When your landlord either delays or refuses to fix the mold problem, the health of you and your family are at risk and you can sue.
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How Much Is A Mold Lawsuit Worth
Settlements awarded to tenants who sue their landlords for mold exposure tend to vary, but the compensation amount ranges from thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on circumstances surrounding the case.
You can still file a lawsuit against your landlord and get compensated even if you think your case isnt significant. The small claims court lawsuits involving mold allows you to file for compensation if you think your claim is in the range of $3,000 to $10,000.
Although each case is different, the general damages for mold contamination include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of earning capacity as a result of injuries sustained due to mold exposure
- Medical expenses incurred while treating mold exposure-related injuries. This may include any future expenses you may incur.
- Loss of wage.
- Destruction of property due to mold contamination.
Is A Landlord Responsible For Mold In A Rental House
California was the first state in the country to pass a law dealing with toxic mold in residential rental property when the Toxic Mold Protection Act went into effect in 2001. The law establishes requirements for landlords when residential rental properties are infested with mold.
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Can You Sue Your Landlord For Health Code Violations Due To Mold
Technically yes, but only in cases of extreme misconduct. One such case happened in Santa Rosa, California in 2017. Mold in a senior living facility caused an asthmatic event in an elderly tenant, leaving her hospitalized. The landlord of the facility was unwilling to resolve the issue, and even threatened to evict tenants who complained about the poor state of the complex.
In California, tenants are required to present complaints regarding mold to their landlord in writing. Additionally, a reasonable amount of time must be allowed to address the problem. If the issue is not resolved, residents are encouraged to gather as much evidence as they can and bring it up with city officials. Law enforcement and other health officers can then charge the buildings owner with misconduct.
Mold Disclosure Requirements In California
California requires sellers of residential buildings with up to four units to disclose in writing any known hazardous conditions, including mold. .)
California law requires landlords to provide tenants with a written disclosure, prior to signing a rental agreement, when they know, or have reason to know, that mold exceeds permissible exposure limits or poses a health threat. .) Although the law allows for the adoption of permissible exposure limits, the state health department has determined that it’s not feasible to do so. In fact, in a Statement on Building Dampness, Mold, and Health , the department takes the position that the mere “presence of water damage, dampness, visible mold, or mold odor” in a building poses a health threat. Rather than try to measure mold levels or determine specific types of mold, the department strongly recommends taking prompt, diligent steps to remediate mold and address any underlying moisture issues that might be present in a building.
Also, while federal law requires disclosures about lead paint, it doesn’t impose a similar duty on landlords when it comes to mold.
Aside from any affirmative disclosure requirement, however, if you decide to list a property for sale, you should be ready with responses to questions potential buyers might ask about plumbing, humidity, and ventilation issues in your building.
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Landlords’ Responsibility And Liability For Mold
Laws related to mold and mold damage vary from state to state. Depending on the law where you live, landlords might have to disclose suspected mold to new or potential tenants and clean up existing mold.
Landlords must provide livable rentals under the implied warranty of habitability.
In almost every state, landlords must provide livable rentals under the implied warranty of habitability. In general, the warranty of habitability requires landlords to maintain both the rental and the property as a whole so that living conditions are safe and secure.
Under this warranty , a landlord who fails to prevent or clean up mold might be liable for any health problems you suffer as a result.
How Do You Clean Mold Off Buildings & Materials
Mold remediation the process of cleaning mold from buildings and materials is a complex and expensive process. The source of water leading to the mold growth must be identified and stopped. The extent of the mold damage must be determined, and the area contained.
Typically, the scope of the remediation necessary to the structure of a home or other building is accomplished by mold testing in the affected building. Thereafter, a mold remediation protocol is prepared based on the results of that mold testing.
Under a typical mold remediation protocol, the impacted area will be contained using clear plastic sheeting to create a room within which to work. Remediation workers wearing Tyvek suits, respirators and goggles will then enter the area infested with toxic mold.
They will remove the water-damaged building materials and placed the debris in sealed containers. They then will remove any remaining mold growth. Once this process is completed, the contained area is tested again to make sure it was properly cleaned or remediated. If so, the containment is removed and the affected area rebuilt.
Proper mold remediation calls for the removal of mold-laden building materials, not merely cleaning with bleach, painting over the mold, or use of encapsulates. Accordingly, it can be very expensive. However, the builders or sellers of the property may be held accountable for such costs. Renters living apartments infested by toxic mold have recourse too.
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What Is Black Mold
Black mold is a type of fungus called Stachybotrys chartarum. It colonizes and grows in homes, apartments, and condominiums where moisture levels are overly high, typically due to leaks, high humidity, or running water.
Stachybotrys chartarum often begins colonizing in specific areas, like alongside improperly sealed windows and ceilings. It may also develop in and around sinks, bathtubs, and toilets and/or leaky foundations in basement walls.
The Environmental Protection Agency reports that molds dont generally cause a problem indoors when habitations are kept in good conditions. It does, however, report that some pathogens can lead to serious health problems when colonies begin to flourish and grow.
The Center for Disease Control correlates this information, confirming that mold infestations may lead to allergies, respiratory issues, headaches, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Limited reports also link black mold with more serious conditions like pulmonary hemorrhage or memory loss, although it isnt yet clear whether this is directly tied to mold or other variables, such as environmental conditions or a patients chronic health problems.
Reasons To Sue Your Landlord For Negligence
There is a wide range of reasons to sue your landlord for negligence.
Some of these reasons include housing discrimination, illegally keeping your security deposit, and allowing a unit to fall into an uninhabitable state. If you find yourself struggling to resolve one of the following issues with your landlord, it may be time to take legal action.
We recommend tenants discuss their landlord-tenant dispute with an experienced real estate lawyer, as a lawyer will provide a recommendation on how to proceed.
A landlord-tenant dispute attorney will have the experience needed to guide you toward a resolution.
Here are 10 common reasons to sue your landlord for negligence:
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Is The Landlord Ignoring The Problem
If you inform your landlord of the presence of black mold, and he or she refuses to intervene, your first step should be to contact the rental board for your local city and area. Be prepared to provide evidence that you have informed the landlord and granted them an appropriate amount of time to fix the problem.
Your local rent board can help you file a complaint about the infestation. Afterward, you can petition the rental board to intervene. Be aware that you may be required to provide the rent board with proof the treatment was not only needed but imperative to your health and safety as a tenant. You can submit photos, videos, and documents as evidence.
If the rent board decides your complaint is valid, a City Inspector will issue a Notice of Violation . This document will demand correction and give a specific date for the repairs to be completed. If the landlord refuses to comply, you may be able to leave your lease early. You also stand a much better chance if and when you decide to sue for compensation.
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