What You Need To Know About Mold In A Rental As A Tenant
All tenants should educate themselves about the basics of mold. You can check out my Mold Facts page to learn more but lets cover a couple of basics here.
A mold problem generally occurs because of one of two reasons :
- A leak or other water intrusion
- High indoor humidity
Without either of these your chances of having a mold in a rental are reduced.
Black Toxic Mold
It seems like mold in rental homes and apartments is always referred to as black toxic mold. The thing is, this isnt the only mold out there. While you dont want any type of mold present in large amounts, you dont want any toxic mold present in your home at all.
The black toxic mold you hear about is most often Stachybotrys which is one of the few types of mold that produce mycotoxins which can really cause negative health effects. This is why it is very important not to move into a moldy rental to begin it.
How To Tell Whether You Have Mold
Its not always obvious that mold is present, but these are things to look for, and be aware of:
Water damage: You’ll probably notice water damage and staining before you notice any signs of mold, because mold tends to grow faster inside the wall than on the surface. Thats why its important to address any moisture problems quickly.
Odor: One of the first signs that mold might be present is a wet, musty smell or the smell of moldy, wet building materials. These indicate a moisture problem that can lead to mold it doesn’t necessarily mean you have mold.
Spots: Black, gray, green, or brown spotting. Only testing can prove whether or not its mold, but if you see spotting on a surface like sheetrock that is or was wet, its worth testing, Gross says.
Health problems: Respiratory reactions including asthma are most common, though mold sensitivity can also cause headaches, irritated eyes, and skin rashes. Some people have symptoms immediately, for others, it develops over time. Note that not all types of mold cause health problems, and that not all black mold is toxic mold. To identify which type of mold you have, an industrial hygienist will need to collect a sample for testing.
If you do think you have mold, there are many at-home mold testing kits available. You can also hire a certified industrial hygienist to take air samples, perform a survey, and devise a clean-up plan.
Tip #: Check Insurance Policies
Sometimes, renters or homeowners insurance policies will cover mold-related damages. Check to see whether your homeowners insurance policy covers a mold problem. Additionally, encourage your tenants to get renters insurance. You could even consider making it a qualification before they can sign the lease.
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Tenant Laws And Mold In A Rental
Tenant laws enter into new territory from mold laws.
All states will allow a tenant to take legal action if a habitable environment is not provided by the landlord. 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 roofs.
If the landlord doesnt 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. Theres a but
While this is on a case by cases bases, most of the time the mold growth has to occur while you are living in the rental. If the landlord failed to fix a previous leak in a timely manner or because proper remediation was not completed you may not have a claim. You may have mold growing behind your walls and not know. Your health might be impacted. But you probably cant do anything about it legally. Unless.
Visible mold begins to grow OR you take matters into your own hands as a tenant and hire a professional mold inspector to assess the mold in a rental. More on that in a minute.
What Options Do Tenants Have If Their Landlord Wont Remove Or Repair The Mold
Showing actual damages is another problem facing tenants experiencing a mold issue . If a landlord is guilty of violating the Florida Statutes and is found to be in material noncompliance with the statute or the lease , the tenants remedy many times is to simply terminate the lease and vacate. Practically speaking though, this is not possible for many tenants as many have no place else to go.
A second alternative is demanding of the landlord to repair the mold or bring the unit into compliance with the lease and/or the building and health codes. In such an instance the tenant may be able to withhold rent. A tenant should be aware that such instances of withholding rent are almost always met with an eviction lawsuit filed by the landlord. The tenant would then have to defend the lawsuit, using the landlords violation of Florida Statute 83.51 as a defense. A tenant may or may not have to deposit rent into the court registry during the pendency of an eviction lawsuit. A tenant may also sue the landlord should any personal effects be damaged, and possibly recover the expense of moving if the tenant so chooses. The legal value of personal property however is usually not great and many times not worth the expense and effort of a lawsuit. None of these options may be particularly attractive to a tenant. However, if your situation is not manageable, please read on:
Find and Read Your Lease Agreement
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Mold In A Rental Landlord Wont Fix The Mold Problem A Guide To Mold And Tenants Rights
Having a mold problem in your home can be so frustrating. But having mold in a rental can be an absolute nightmare.
If those are both bad, try having mold in a rental when a landlord wont fix the mold problem.
If you are dealing with mold in a rental, then this article is for you. While tenant rights laws and mold laws vary from state to state, the bulk of the information in this article applies to anyone in any state.
This article isnt just for tenants! If you are a landlord, there is information that you simply must know not only to protect your investment but the health of other people living in your home.
The information that is about to be laid out for you is by no means considered legal advice. A lawyer should be consulted if you plan on pursuing any legal action.
Is It A Violation For There To Be Mold In My Apartment
The citys housing department will record mold growths as C class, or immediately hazardous violations. However, many tenants find the enforcement of laws by the citys health and housing departments to be insufficient when dealing with a landlord who is resistant to spending the money to cure the problem. If your landlord is not responsive, you may need to take futher action such as taking your landlord to court
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What To Do If You Find Mold In Your Apartment
You should act immediately if you discover mold in your apartment. Notify your landlord right away, and consider asking them to turn to a professional mold inspector. Mold tends to grow in concealed places, such as behind appliances or walls, and professionals have the right equipment to detect it.
Once you or a mold inspector has detected a problem, your landlord should address the problem right away. They may clean the mold themselves or hire someone to do it. Properly sealing barriers and preventing further leaks, spills, or floods, then replacing, removing, or bleaching affected areas can solve the mold problem. However, toxic mold may require a professional mold removal service. Black toxic mold can pose a danger to people, and it can easily spread if it is not properly handled.
If you find mold on your personal property, you can discuss that damage with your landlord. However, depending on the terms of your rental agreement, you may need to replace your personal items. You may send a claim to your renters insurance company.
You can take a few steps to prevent mold from growing in the first place. Dry any moisture you see as soon as possible, and make sure you dont leave standing water anywhere. Whether that water comes from something you spill in the bedroom, or its around the kitchen sink, drying it out will help stop a mold problem before it begins.
Responsibilities Of A Landlord If There Is Mold In A Rental They Own
The landlord has one overall responsibility that generalizes all their responsibilities in one:
Provide a habitable environment for the tenant.
Mold prevention will always be the biggest proponent of ensuring a mold problem doesnt occur in a rental home you own. So as a landlord, be sure you practice good home maintenance and educate your tenants on the 27 things they can do to prevent mold.
Have The Property Inspected For Any Leaks/HVAC Issues
Before the tenant occupies the property, a landlord should come up with some kind of schedule to have the home inspected to prevent mold. Once a quarter should probably be sufficient but that will be up to both the tenant and landlord to decide.
A landlord should look for any visible stains or signs of a leak. Is paint bubbling at all? Are any drywall nails popping out of the wall? These are tell-tale signs that there may be moisture intrusion into the home.
An HVAC company should be hired to perform maintenance on the unit once every 6 months or so.
If any parts of the HVAC unit, the unit itself, or any plumbing fixtures are not properly functioning, the landlord must repair or replace.
Have Leaks Corrected Right Away
The sooner water intrusion is corrected and dried out the more of a chance mold can be nipped at the butt!
If a landlord takes their good old time to dry up a water damaged area, well, you can expect a mold problem if the conditions are right.
How Long Does A Landlord Have To Fix A Mold Problem?
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Is Mold The Landlords Responsibility
There aren’t many laws that specifically govern a landlord’s responsibility when it comes to mold in rentals.
Some property managers require renters to sign a separate waiver or document related to mold on the premises when they move in. Make sure you review it along with your lease agreement to get a better understanding of your rights and responsibilities.
Even though there aren’t many mold-specific laws in the books, in most states your property manager is legally required to provide a habitable premises. Here are a few questions to ask yourself that will help you determine who’s responsible.
Leaks From Another Apartment
Broken pipes and water overflows can soak your ceiling and walls from above, or seep into your floors and walls from the side. The most common offender: Plastic water supply lines to sinks and toilets, which newer buildings tend to use more.
Treatment: If, for example, your upstairs neighbor’s toilet or shower overflows into one room of your apartment, your ceiling and walls would be affected. Professional water remediationwhich involves drying out the area behind the wall to prevent moldcosts about $1,200-$4,000. That process takes about three to 10 days and includes sucking up the standing water, making holes in the wall to ventilate the wall cavities, and may involve pulling down a light fixture to get air into the ceiling, cleaning and treating all surfaces with an antimicrobial agent, and setting up drying equipment.
If mold is present and the affected area exceeds 10 square feet, New York City Health Department guidelines require a full-scale mold remediation by a trained and qualified professional like Gross. Since 2016, New York state has required mold remediation companies to be licensed. The law also makes it illegal for companies to do both testing and remediation, as theres an inherent conflict of interest.
The mold limits usually come into play if the mold issue blows up months later or comes from a source that is not related to a covered perila blocked bathroom, vent, for example, says Jeffrey Schneider of Gotham Brokerage, a Brick Underground sponsor.
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Mold In Your Apartment Problems Solutions And Prevention
If you suspect you have mold in your apartment, you may worry that your home sweet home has become a hazard to your health. What can you do, and whose responsibility is it to solve the problem?
Mold that concentrates on surfaces indoors can cause health problems, especially if you have a sensitivity like allergies or asthma. That’s why it’s smart to be alert for signs of mold, address mold problems quickly if you find them and take steps to prevent mold growth in the first place.
Does A Landlord Have To Remove Mold From A Rental Property In Texas
The law says that landlords in Texas have a duty to remove conditions that materially affect the physical health or safety of an ordinary tenant if all of the following are true:
- The condition was not caused by the tenant , the tenants family, or the tenant’s guests and
- The landlord has proper written notice of the condition and
- The tenant is not delinquent in rent at the time of giving the landlord notice to repair or remedy.
Read the law here: Tex. Prop. Code § 92.056.
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What To Do If There Is Mold In Your Apartment
Mold is an environmental problem in rental apartments across the nation. As a renter or a tenant, you have a right to have a mold problem remediated in a timely manner. Because exposure to spores can lead to chronic and severe health problems, living in a mold-infested apartment presents many problems, legal and otherwise.
Some things you can do to help prevent mold or mildew in your apartment include:
Clean any moisture or wet spots anywhere in your apartment as they occur. If water or moisture reoccurs, check for the source. You may have a plumbing or roof leak. Check the drip pan for water or leaks on the floor around your hot water heater or AC unit Keep the humidity level down with a dehumidifier. Make sure your clothes dryer vents properly to the outside of your building. Make sure your bathroom has proper ventilation.
Problems that are related to the apartment building itself may require more extensive work and would be your landlords responsibility.
If mold is found in your apartment, you should first report the problem to your landlord. Keep careful documentation of all correspondence.
You may find a small amount of mold and decide to clean it up yourself. There are potentially serious risks in removing the mold yourself. For example, peeling back wallpaper or taking up tile can release mold spores into the air. Without following the proper safety guidelines, spores can spread throughout the apartment.
How To Deal With Black Mold In A Rental Property
Step 1 Notify the Landlord
When you discover mold in your apartment, filing for an apartment mold lawsuit should not be your first step. Instead, you should contact the landlord or send him/her a notice immediately letting them know what you found. Due to the warranty of habitability, your landlord is responsible for removing the mold and should compensate you if you suffer any health problems from being exposed.
Chances are your landlord will react quickly and get the black mold removed. If the landlord shows reluctance in fixing the issue and you are convinced that it is not due to your negligence, you may consider pursuing a legal claim against the landlord.
Step 2 Pursue Legal Action
Filing a lawsuit should be your next move if the landlord refuses to address your mold issue. Depending on your loss you should be fairly compensated. It may be necessary to file in small claims court if the amount of damages falls under a certain threshold. Youll need to research the damage threshold in your state to determine what qualifies as a small claims case.
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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.
What Should Be Done When Mold Is Found In My Apartment
Mold should be cleaned up, according to the NYC Department of Health, with a mild bleach and water solution by a person who is not allergic or sensitive to the mold. Young children, especially babies, older people, pregnant women and anyone with asthma or other allergic or lung condition should not be involved in or around the mold or the clean up. The cleaning cloths should be discarded, and any thing that had the mold growing on it, such as carpets, curtains, furniture, paper, wall paper, plaster or sheet rock should also be discarded. The citys health department has clear guidelines for cleaning up mold growths which should be followed. If your landlord is doing the cleanup, make sure the workers follow the guidelines. Obviously, very large growths should be handled by a trained contractor hired by the landlord.
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