Landlord Responsibility For Mold
We frequently receive emails from tenants asking about the landlord responsibility for mold in an apartment or rental house. When tenants find mold in an apartment or rental house, they usually want the landlord to pay for mold removal. Sometimes disputes occur when landlords dont want to pay.
We can tell you a bit about landlord liability for mold in rental housing, but its important to understand that the laws vary from place to place and laws also change over time. Consult an attorney in your state if you need to know the specific laws that apply in your area. We definitely recommend consulting an attorney before you decide to stop paying your rent or to violate your lease in some way.
Clean Up Safely After A Flood
Flood water may contain bacteria, petroleum and chemicals. Mold can grow in a flooded home that is not properly cleaned and dried out.
Learn how to safely clean your home after a flood:
Mold , mushrooms, and yeast are all types of fungi. Fungi are found both indoors and outdoors. Hundreds of different kinds of mold are commonly found in the United States and New York City.
Exposure to mold can cause or worsen asthma symptoms and allergies, such as hay fever. People who are allergic or sensitive to mold may experience congestion, runny nose, coughing and trouble breathing.
Some people are at risk for more severe reactions to mold, such as fever and shortness of breath. This includes people who are exposed to large amounts of mold at work such as, agricultural workers and building demolition workers. People who have had or are undergoing certain medical procedures, such as bone marrow or organ transplants and chemotherapy, are also at risk. Health symptoms usually disappear after the mold has been removed.
Poor Reason For Testing #2 To Identify What Type Of Mold Is Present
Some testing can be used to identify a portion of the live mold in a sample by growing it in the lab. This gives only a partial description of the total amount of molds, because those not present at the sampled time and location or those that didnt grow in the sample are not seen by the analysis. Most importantly, nonliving molds will not be identifiable, but they can still contribute significantly to health complaints.
From a practical, health-protective perspective, knowing the types of molds is usually not very important because any indoor mold growth represents a problem. The problem should be corrected regardless of the types of molds that can be identified.
Also Check: How Do You Know If Mold Is In Your House
What Are Your Tenant Rights
Most cities and states do not actually have tenant laws that actually require landlords to inspect their rental units for this type of fungus. However, most tenant laws do require landlords to provide safe and sanitary places for tenants to live. With that, any type of fungal infestation may fall under those tenant laws, thus requiring landlords to address such problems in a prompt and professional manner.
If you did not cause the fungus to crop up and grow in the rental unit, you are not obligated to get rid of it. The landlord must either remediate the problem on his or her own or hire a remediation company to come in and clean it up for you.
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.
Also Check: How To Cover Up Mold
Where Mold Is Found
Mold comes in various colors and shapes. The villainswith names like stachybotrys, penicillium, aspergilus, paecilomyces, and fusariumare black, white, green, or gray. Some are powdery, others shiny. Some molds look and smell disgusting others are barely seenhidden between walls, under floors and ceilings, or in less accessible spots, such as basements and attics.
Mold often grows on water-soaked materials, such as wall paneling, paint, fabric, ceiling tiles, newspapers, or cardboard boxes. Humidity sets up prime growing conditions for mold. Buildings in naturally humid climates of Texas, California, and the Southern U.S. have experienced more mold problems than residences in drier climates. But whatever the climate, mold can grow as long as moisture is present.
Ask Your Landlord And Neighbors About The History Of Your Apartment
If you think you may have a mold problem in your apartment that started before you first moved it, ask your maintenance guy and your landlord if there had ever been water damage or a pipe burst or leaked on or around your apartment.
Also, ask your neighbors on all sides of your unit if they remember a time when there was a leak or water or some flooding that occurred. Many times, tenants will stay for a long period of time and will recall if something memorable like that happened.
If any of them do say there was an issue historically, then you may have found the culprit right there. If not, you may want to do some more investigating on your own first. But it is a good way to track down the history of your apartment unit to see if the conditions were present for mold growth.
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Can Mold Spread From One Apartment To Another
Unlike houses, apartments are not usually self-contained living environments. Apartments exist as interconnected units with common ventilation and plumbing systems.
As a result, if one apartment has a mold and mildew problem, it can easily spread to other apartments through the air in HVAC systems.
This means that even if you remove mold from your apartment, it could still come back if other apartments in the building remain contaminated. In addition, its very difficult to find the source of the contamination especially if you dont have the help of a professional mold inspector.
Did you know?
Only 8% of living rooms we have tested didnt have presence of mold?! Find out more exciting mold stats and facts inside our mold statistics page.
What Your Landlord Needs To Do
Your landlord may choose to hire a handyman or might clean it up on their own. Oftentimes, preventing further water from leaking or spilling, properly sealing barriers, and either removing, replacing, or bleaching the affected area will take care of the problem.
If there is mold growing on your personal property, you will have to talk to your landlord about that damage. Be prepared, though, that you may be responsible for replacing any personal items per your apartment rental agreement. If the item is expensive, you may send it a claim to your renters insurance company.
If there is black mold, your landlord will need to hire a professional mold removal service as it is extremely dangerous and must be handled in a specific way to prevent it from spreading.
Recommended Reading: Who To Call For Mold
Where To Check For Mold In Your Apartment
When you lease an apartment, you need to know where to look for black mold growing inside of it. By recognizing what areas of your apartment can be most susceptible to moisture, humidity and wetness, you can look for signs of mold growing in them.
Technically, however, black mold can grow anywhere in the place. During the time that you live there, you should examine every part of it to find out if it is growing anywhere in it. If you find it, you should report it immediately to your landlord so it can be treated and eliminated promptly.
Recommended article: How to identify black mold
How Do I Tell If I Have A Mold Problem
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What Does Mold Need To Grow
Mold needs a food source such as food, water, or moisture. It can grow on almost any organic material and even some inorganic materials that are rich in organic matter. Mold grows by absorbing nutrients from the surface it is growing on.
What does mold look like? Molds are visible as fuzzy, light-colored growths that grow in clumps or colonies. The spores inside the mold can be white, gray, yellow, brown, black, or red. These colors are caused by pigments called chromatin. Molds can cause diseases in people, pets, and plants.
Molds are a common indoor problem. They grow where there is water or moist air. People find molds growing on food, in carpets, insulation, wallpaper, electrical wiring, and other materials.
Mold Prevention And Removal
The best way to prevent mold is to remove water and moisture sources. Fix leaks, dry damp areas and remove humidity from the air to help stop mold growth and keep it from coming back.
To remove mold:
If the mold returns quickly or spreads, there may be an underlying problem, such as a water leak. Report repeated mold problems to your landlord.
If large areas of mold are present, you may need outside help such as a professional mold abatement company. Be sure your contractor is licensed and follows NYS Labor Law requirements.
To report a large amount of mold in an apartment if you are a tenant, or if the mold is in a non-residential location, submit a complaint online or call 311.
Read Also: How To Eliminate Mold Smell
What Are My Options If I Am Renting And Management Refuses To Help
If you are the current tenant of a rental property, do not have an active leak but are experiencing an unresolved mold problem, follow these steps:
If you are the tenant of a rental property and have a problem with an ongoing uncorrected water leak, please call 311 to report the uncorrected leak to Code Enforcement.
There are no legal requirements specific to mold in most residential settings. However, New Mexico law requires that a landlord must provide an apartment that is habitable and in reasonable repair. If an apartment becomes uninhabitable, the landlord has violated or breached the lease.
Signs Of Mold In An Apartment
Watch out for these signs of mold in an apartment:
- An off smell: If you notice a musty smell in your unit, it could very well come from mold. Check for further signs. Even if you dont immediately see anything obvious, a moldy odor means youll want to investigate more.
- Dirty spots: Mold is not always visible, but people can mistake it for stains like soot or dirt when it is. Remember that mold can come in various colors, sizes, and shapes, so dont just assume youre in the clear if that strange spot isnt black. A small mold spot could mean you have more mold lurking behind your walls or in other areas.
- Leaks: Because mold needs moisture, a leak in your unit may lead to mold. Mold often exists around pipes in front of and behind walls. If you have a leak, get it fixed right away, and check for mold signs after. The top causes of mold include leaks from another unit, clogged PTAC units, and broken washing machine hoses.
- Condensation: Again, lots of moisture creates the right conditions for mold. Condensation collects when a lot of moisture exists in the air. High humidity can make condensation even worse, and by extension, the conditions for mold growth even better.
- Flooding: Likewise, flooding often leads to mold. Even if the flood occurred a while ago, you might have mold that grew undetected and is just now showing itself.
If any of these issues exist in your apartment, you should start addressing them with your landlord right away.
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Testing For Mold In Apartment
A professional remediation company can test your home for fungal growth. Even if you suspect its presence, you can confirm this problem by having a professional service test your home for it. It can identify what kind is growing in your home, what may have caused it and how extensive the issue really is. It can also treat and eliminate it for you. Recommended article: mold inspection and testing.
Can Mold Make Me And My Family Sick
Mold is a fungus that is found both indoors and outdoors. Mold reproduces by releasing spores into the air. When these spores are inhaled, they can cause allergic reactions or other health problems. Mold can also grow on food, causing it to spoil.
People with asthma or allergies are more likely to get sick from mold exposure.
Also Check: How To Combat Mold Exposure
Is It The Landlords Responsibility To Check For Mold
Do you have reason to think that your apartment has mold in it? If so, the first thing you want to do is tell your landlord. You want to do this so that the mold doesnt spread throughout the building any more than it already has. From there you can figure out a solution.
Many people are going to be wondering if the landlord is responsible for the testing and removal of the mold. Your landlord is first and foremost responsible to the tenant to providing them with a habitable rental property. This doesnt mean they are responsible for cleaning up the water damage that you caused while you were living there, but it does mean that they are responsible for making sure your apartment unit was good to go from the beginning of your stay. If it wasnt, they would be on the hook for testing and cleanup.
Lets look at a couple of different scenarios.
Say your landlord rented you your apartment and didnt realize there was mold growing in it. Either behind the walls or in the ceiling due to a leak in the apartment above the year before. In this case, the landlord would be responsible for taking care of the testing and removal of the mold.
More than likely, they would call in a professional restoration company that is experienced in mold and have them do some testing, then fumigation, then treatment of any and all areas that need it.
Testing For Mold In Your Home
If you hire a professional mold inspector to come to your home, theyll take samples from three areasthe air, the surface, and surrounding dust. They send these samples to a third-party laboratory to find out the concentration and kinds of mold in those particular areas.
However, this procedure takes time and isnt cheap. Fortunately, testing for mold in your home is a relatively easy task that can give you faster results and save you money. If youve done everything you can to prevent mold but still have reason to think the air you breathe is compromised with mold spores, check strategic locations for visible signs of mold.
Common areas of mold growth include:
- Areas around plumbing lines, even behind the drywall
- Below sinks
- Coils of HVAC air handlers or ductwork
- Between the furniture and exterior walls, particularly in basements or concrete block houses
Recommended Reading: Does Mold Grow On Insulation
Clean Up Mold On Hard Surfaces
You can remove the mold in your apartment yourself if it’s:
- On a hard surface
- Not related to moisture problems that are outside your control
- Commercial cleaning products, soap and water or a mixture of no more than one cup of household bleach to one gallon of water are all effective ways to remove mold from hard surfaces. There are also some natural ways to get rid of mold.
Never mix bleach with other household cleaners or ammonia. Doing so can create poisonous fumes. Always wear gloves and keep your room well ventilated when you use cleaning products.