Should A Tenant Leave If Mold Is Found
Mold is a type of microscopic fungi that thrives in moist conditions and grows on any organic material including wood, paper and fibers. Colonies of mold can cover a large area and are usually black, white, grey, brown or green. Not only does mold damage the surfaces it grows on, it can also cause serious health problems. Depending on your sensitivity to mold and the extent of the mold growth, it could be a good idea to move out of your apartment if mold is present.
Why Is Mold One Of The Biggest Concerns Of Tenants In Georgia
Based on a tenant review website, the five most common complaints of tenants include the following:
An environmental hazard, mold is a type of microscopic fungi that thrives in moist conditions, and is very prevalent in humid climates. It grows on any organic material including wood, paper, drywall, tiles, wall paneling, paint, rugs and fibers.
Colonies of mold, like like stachybotrys, penicillium, aspergilus, paecilomyces, and fusarium, can cover a large area and are usually black, white, grey, brown, green, or gray. Some molds are powdery or shiny and can give off a musty or mildewy smell. Unfortunately, not all mold is visible and can be hidden or covered in the areas such as a vent underneath a refrigerator, radiator, or sink under the floor or a ceiling or behind a wall.
Common causes of moisture include the following:
- leaky pipes or radiators
- broken or poorly sealed windows
- a damaged roof
- poor ventilation, especially in a bathroom
- standing water
There are two key problems caused by mold. First, it damages the surfaces it grows on, which could eventually cause structural problems. Second, it can also cause serious health problems. Depending on your sensitivity to mold and the extent of the mold growth, you may be forced move out of your apartment if mold is present.
Healthy people constantly exposed to mold can also develop severe illnesses and allergies when exposed to mold.
How To Detect Mold
The obvious way to detect mold is to see it. Mold can appear as yellow, brown or black patches or spots. While it is more likely to see mold growing in high moisture areas like the bathroom, kitchen or near windows, it can grow anywhere, including in the walls, carpet and floors. You may also notice a musty smell in highly concentrated areas as well as an increase in respiratory problems. California law requires landlords to disclose the presence of mold before a tenant signs a lease agreement.
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Should I Test For Mold
For testing assessments and/or clean-up, check local yellow pages under Laboratories-Analytical, Environmental Testing, or Mold Inspection. Please note that the commonly used testing methods are limited in what they can detect and measure. Testing for mold is not the same as testing for mycotoxins, toxic substances produced by some molds which may harm a person.
Landlord Liability & Responsibility
Before leasing out to the tenant, the landlord should have conducted appropriate inspections and cleaning of the property. If a tenant reports mold to a landlord, the landlord is obligated to eradicate the problem.
However, prevention is preferred to a costly mold clean-up. Maintenance and repair requests made by tenants should be promptly responded to. Such requests also include cleaning air conditioning and clothes dryer ducts.
If such requests are grossly delayed in resolving or are ignored altogether, liability for resulting mold growth falls on the landlord.
As a landlord, make sure you delineate in the lease agreement if it is your tenants responsibility for mold maintenance, before considering issuing an eviction notice to them for a moldy buildup on the property.
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Easy Ways To Test For Mold In An Apartment
Exposure to toxic mold in an apartment can cause various health issues.
Mold is an environmental hazard that can lead to serious health problems if not addressed immediately such as asthma, skin infections, nausea, and headaches.
Mold removal in an apartment can be expensive.
This is why before moving into an apartment, you need to check for mold infestation.
Mold And Tenants Rights: Make Sure To Check Your Lease Agreement
Since there are no clear-cut regulations when it comes to mold in rental property, most landlords will include relevant clauses in their lease agreements, or even have a lease addendum for mold. While landlords are still responsible for removing mold in a rental house, these provisions can relieve them from potential liabilities.
In a typical lease agreement or mold lease addendum, a landlord will inform the dangers of mold and the importance of mold prevention. Upon signing the contract, the tenant acknowledges that the rental unit is clean and free of mold prior to moving in. The tenant also agrees to employ strategies that will prevent the growth of mold in apartments such as using exhaust fans, opening windows, and cleaning the rental property regularly.
Some landlords may offer free mold inspections for renters prior to move in. Its helpful to have a move-in checklist so that both landlord and tenant can establish the condition of the rental property. Based on the findings of the apartment mold inspection, the tenant can ask the landlord to make the necessary changes prior to moving in.
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Landlord/tenant Responsibilities In Georgia
Generally speaking, as a tenant you have the right to live in a clean and habitable environment. Your landlord is responsible for offering you a safe environment to live in and must repair issues such as leaky pipes, roofs, and windows, which could create moisture issues that lead to mold.
Regardless of where you live, you should expect the following from your landlord:
As a renter, you should:
Links To More Information About Mold
The information and advice from this fact sheet was collected from the following agencies contact them for more information or assistance:
- The New York City Department of Health can provide information about the health effects of mold exposure and information about the safe removal of mold.
- New York City Department of Health, Office of Environmental Investigations at 4423372 or the Environmental and Occupational Disease Epidemiology Unit at 7884290.
- There is information about mold, how to remove it, and how to deal with some of the health effects the NYC Dept of Health website: Facts About Mold Guidelines on Assessment and Mold in the Home.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Preventions National Center for Environmental Health has information on its website about mold and clean up procedures as well as links to information about mold and asthma and other environmental issues.
- The National Institutes of Healths Medline provides web access to articles on various types of health issues related to mold.
- Use libraries and the internet to search for magazine and newspaper articles on mold, its health effects and what tenants are doing around the country to combat the problem.
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Can You Sue Your Landlord For Mold Issues
Yes, There are several circumstances under which you may be able to be compensated for mold.
You can sue your landlord for mold:
- If you notified your landlord that there is a water leak or that there is visible mold in the rental property, but your landlord has neglected to fix or remediate it
- If you have any uninsured/unreimbursed past and future medical expenses due to mold exposure
- If you have lost wages and will lose wages in the future due to your condition
- If youve incurred any costs in attempting to remediate the mold yourself
- For mold-related damages to your personal property, if you do not have renters insurance or your renters insurance does not cover mold
- For your pain and suffering caused by the health effects of mold.
The attorneys at Saffren & Weinberg focus on toxic mold lawsuits. We have successfully sued landlords for mold-related damages to tenants health and personal property, and we can help you get compensation for your health problems and property loss.
Give us a call to schedule your free consultation if youve suffered health or property damage due to mold. You are likely entitled to compensation.
Obligation To Disclose Owner
The second obligation every landlord has is to disclose to their tenants certain information about the owner of the property. This responsibility lies with the person who has signed the lease agreement with the tenant, whether it be the buildings owner, the landlord, or another individual who is acting as the landlords agent.
What to Disclose
The names and addresses of the individual or individuals with the power to manage the building, collect rent, make repairs, address complaints or issue notices.
How to Disclose It
This disclosure should usually be made in writing and should occur before the actual tenancy begins. If any changes occur during a tenants tenancy, the tenant must be notified of the change.
Why This Disclosure Is Important
The purpose of this obligation is to ensure that the tenant knows the correct contact person for various activities such as rent collection and maintenance requests, as well as for any legal issues that may arise.
If this disclosure of owner is not made to the tenant, the person collecting the rent becomes the go-to person for handling all matters related to the property.
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Obligation To Maintain The Unit
A landlord has the responsibility to his or her tenants to maintain the property. This includes keeping the property clean, safe and habitable. The landlord must adhere to all building codes, perform necessary repairs, maintain common areas, keep all vital services, such as plumbing, electricity, and heat, in good working order, must provide proper trash receptacles and must supply running water.
The Renters Responsibility For Mold In Apartment
A small instance of mold growth may not qualify. It would only apply if an underlying plumbing problem that caused the mold.
Renters are also responsible for taking care of the property. Those who pour water onto the carpet and do not clean or dry the area are responsible for any mold growth. Renters are responsible for any problems associated with their apartments. The landlord is only required to handle problems that the renter would not have caused.
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Can You Sue For Mold Exposure In Apartment
If your landlord fails to address the mold problem and it leads to health problems, you might be able to sue. Given the potential health risks, there have been many mold lawsuit settlements throughout the country. Lawsuits can be lengthy, though, with no immediate results. As such, its up to the tenant to decide whether to sue or not. If you have renters insurance, you might have coverage for tenant relocation due to mold. This can offset some of the expenses if you decide to leave the rental property.
What Is My Landlords Responsibility To Eliminate Mold In My Apartment
Your landlord is responsible for properly cleaning up the mold and for repairing any conditions that are keeping the condition in your apartment wet.
The source of the water or moisture build-up should be stopped prior to cleanup If mold is cleaned but the water source isnt stopped, the mold will soon re-emerge. Even replacing a section of wall, ceiling, or floor will be inadequate, as the new piece will soon become wet.
Certain fixes may be expensive, such as replacing pipes between the walls or in adjacent apartments, fixing the roof, or repairing the outside walls of your building. Your landlord is responsible for making whatever repair is necessary to cure the problem, no matter what the repair costs. If your landlord resists, you may need to involve the courts.
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Cleaning Up Small And Medium Mould Problems
Bleach is not necessary to clean up mould.
You can clean up small areas of mould if you follow the proper procedures and use the right protective equipment. Unless the mould growth is on smooth surfaces such as bathroom tiles, surface cleaning will not eliminate the problem.
In most cases you can clean up medium areas of mould if you follow the proper procedures and use the right protective equipment. Materials damaged by mould must be physically removed and disposed of under safe conditions. However, it is important to seek professional assistance if there is a large mould problem or if mould comes back after cleaning.
Susceptible individuals such as pregnant women, infants, children, the elderly, and occupants with asthma, allergies or other health problems should not be in or near the area where the mould is being cleaned up.
Minimum protective gear needed:
- a disposable N95 mask and
- household disposable gloves.
You can purchase an N95 mask from a hardware store. Make sure that the label says “N95”. Other masks are designed to provide limited protection against dust and are not suitable for protecting against mould exposure. Make sure that the mask is properly fitted and you can breathe through the mask.
Mold Caused By Tenant Behavior
The liability picture changes when mold grows as the result of your own behavior, such as keeping the apartment tightly shut, creating high humidity, or failing to maintain necessary cleanliness. Tenants have some duties to maintain their rental unit, so when a tenant’s own negligence is the sole cause of injury, the landlord is not liable. To avoid causing any mold problems, practice good housekeeping, such as ventilating your apartment.
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Obligation To Deliver Possession Of Unit
The third obligation for landlords under the landlord-tenant law is to deliver possession of the unit to the tenant. This means having the unit vacant for the tenant on the move-in date that was specified in the lease agreement. If the unit is not available for the tenant on the specified move-in date, the tenant may be able to pursue legal action against the landlord for failure to honor the lease agreement.
In addition, if there is a squatter in the unit or another individual who does not have the legal right to be there, the landlord may pursue legal action against this individual. The landlord could be awarded damages.
When Does Mold Become Harmful To Health
According to information provided by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control, and the NYC Department of Health, most molds that grow in small quantities are harmless for healthy people but obvious mold growths in homes or work places should be cleaned up immediately.
Some molds can be very harmful to humans, especially young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. Even healthy people can develop severe illnesses and allergies when exposed to large mold growths. Illnesses related to mold growth include allergic reactions , asthma, and severe respiratory problems.
Tenants around the country have complained for years about very severe illnesses, including hemorrhaging lungs, caused by mycotoxins which are chemicals produced by some harmful molds. In large quantities, according to some sources, mold mycotoxins can induce allergies and chronic, severe health problems in previously healthy people.
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Mold Caused By A Landlord’s Failure To Fix Leaks
Landlords in all states but Arkansas are responsible for maintaining fit and habitable housing and repairing rental property, and this extends to fixing leaking pipes, windows, and roofsthe causes of most mold. If the landlord doesn’t take care of leaks and mold grows as a result, you might be able to hold the landlord responsible if you can convince a judge or jury that the mold has caused a health problem.
Safely Clean Small Patches Of Mold And Seal Off What You Cant Clean
While you wait for repairs, you can clean small patches of mold with a mild solution of bleach and water. If youre sensitive to mold, ask someone else to do the cleaning.
If the mold has spread to other household items, like curtains or rugs, its best to throw those items away. If you have receipts for anything you have to throw out due to the mold, save them. And if you need to buy anything for the clean up, save those receipts too. You may be able to get your costs reimbursed by going to small claims court.
Whatever you cant clean should get sealed off with plastic bags, or tarps, and duct tapethis can help prevent mold from circulating in the air. Mold in your apartment is actually a symptom of a bigger problem: extra moisture, caused by things like leaky pipes and poor ventilation. If the moisture doesnt get addressed properly, mold will keep coming back.
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