How To Get Your Landlord To Repair The Mold In Your Home
Florida Statute 83.56 can pressure a landlord to make repairs when the landlord wont do so willingly.
Mold is an increasingly common issue in Florida because of the humid climate, aging buildings, and dated construction materials. Tenants often are told by their landlords that mold is a concern of the tenant when, in reality, it is the landlords responsibility to mitigate and repair this condition, which they often fail to do. For this reason, we have prepared this article as a practical guide for tenants facing this problem.
This article is written purely from the standpoint of Florida landlord-tenant law and not from a personal injury perspective. The reason is that it is very difficult under Florida law to pursue a personal injury case related to mold. In addition to the difficult legal standard, most personal injury claims resulting from mold are factually difficult to prove as well. Unless and until a tenant can prove that the mold was from the landlords action or inaction , and compile medical reports that not only diagnose a specific medical condition, and relate the cause of that condition to mold, the evidentiary burden is likely too great to pursue an injury claim in court.
But for those that are interested in demanding their landlord repair the mold condition and are willing to move out of the premises if the landlord fails to do so, read on:
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.
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.
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The Difference Between Mold Removal And Remediation
Like we said before, microscopic mold spores exist naturally almost everywhere, which makes the concept of true removal impossible. They float through the air and can settle on any kind of surface. However, when mold takes root in a humid environment and forms a damage-inducing colony, the process of clean-up is considered remediation . Removal and remediation may be used interchangeably, but its important to know what they mean, especially as you do your research.
Mold And Human Health
With too much exposure to toxic mold, humans can suffer a range of negative health effects. Respiratory problems, allergic reactions, neurological problems and more are all results of prolonged exposure. Children and the elderly are particularly at risk for health-related problems.Here is a list of symptoms that could mean someone has been exposed to toxic mold:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Runny nose
Asthma, sinus infections, allergic reactions, fungal infections and mycotoxin toxicity are conditions and diseases that are common in those who have been exposed to toxic mold spores. Ill health can range from short-term illnesses to long-term, permanent effects. Landlords can be liable for failing to provide a habitable residence, and toxic mold growth certainly falls under this definition. Because landlords are the owners of rental properties where people reside, they are therefore responsible for complying with state and local health standards.
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Extent Of Mould Growth
It is important to determine the extent of the mould problem in your home to help you decide on the clean-up procedure. An area of mould is considered small if it covers one square metre or less. There should be no more than three patches of mould, with the total area staying within one square metre. Many small patches of mould in one area or throughout your home are a sign of moisture problems that need to be investigated and corrected right away.
If ignored, small mould areas may become larger over time, so it is important to clean them up before the problem gets bigger. A small amount of mould may be cleaned up using proper procedures and protective equipment.
The area of mould is considered medium if there are more than three patches of mould , but the total area is less than three square metres. In this case, assessment by a qualified professional is recommended but in most cases a medium amount of mould may be cleaned up using proper procedures and protective equipment .
An area of mould is considered large if a single patch of mould is larger than three square metres. Health Canada does not recommend that an unqualified person clean up large areas of mould. You may need a professional assessment to determine why the mould is there in the first place and how to clean it up.
The Moldy Apartment Blues Who Is Liable
Mold in rentals is a joint issue of tenant-landlord liability, responsibility, and prevention. If you find mold lurking and seeping in from the corners of your walls, you are living in an environmentally hazardous situation. There are a variety of mold strains that can cause any number of health problems.
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How Can I Prevent My Landlord From Blaming Me For The Mold Problem
Legally, youre not allowed to repair and deduct, withhold rent, or break your lease if you caused the mold problem. Make sure to promptly report spills and leaks to your landlord, and, if you do notice mold anywhere in your apartment, let your landlord know in writing before it becomes a more serious issue.
Keep records of any conversations you have with your landlord about a mold problem. Write down the date of all phone conversations and what was discussed, including any promises the landlord makes. Its even better if you communicate in writingmake sure to save all emails, texts, or letters. Also, keep a written record of any doctor appointments and medical bills relating to possible symptoms from the mold. Finally, be sure to take photos of mold infestation with time-date stamps.
Why? Theyll be important if you ever end up in court. A tenant in North Carolina broke her lease because of a severe mold problem, and her landlord sued. At the trial, she presented convincing evidence in the form of pictures, documents, and testimony to show that her apartment was not only damaged but uninhabitable. As a result, the court determined she was justified in withholding rentand, whats more, was entitled to $4,015 in damages.2
What Should I Do If I Rent And Find Mold
We receive calls on a regular basis from people who rent an apartment or home that will have mold. So what should I do if I rent and find mold?
The size of the contaminated area matters
The size of the contaminated area determines your first step.
If it is a small area, , it can be addressed by purchasing a mold control / mold removal product such as Concrobium Mold Control. Just follow the manufacturers instructions / directions and apply in the area where you see the mold.
Remember, always wear personal protective equipment when applying the product, , and keep people / pets away from the area until dry.If the area is larger, , we recommend you call us to address.
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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.
Is Mold Really A Big Deal
The answer depends, but it can definitely turn into a huge deal for the building and your health. Even regular, run-of-the-mill mold can make you miserable and should be dealt with immediately. However, mold that is left untreated can develop into black mold, which is toxic to humans and can make you extremely ill.
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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 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.
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Landlord Legal Responsibilities For Tenant Exposure To Mold
With a few exceptions, landlord responsibilities regarding mold have not been clearly spelled out in building codes, ordinances, statutes, or regulations.
No federal law sets permissible exposure limits or building tolerance standards for mold in residential buildings, and only a few states , and a few cities , have taken steps toward establishing permissible mold standards or guidelines and regulations for mold in indoor air.
To see whether your state is considering mold-related legislation that might affect residential rentals, you can search the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Environmental Health State Bill Tracking Database. Check the “Indoor Air QualityMold” box in the “Topics” column, and check the box next to your state.
For local mold-related rules, contact your city manager, mayor’s office or other local government department.
Common Places Where Mold Hides
Mold needs two things to thrive: moisture and some amount of darkness. Places where moisture is frequent or excessive are prime spots for mold growth, especially if those places don’t have a lot of exposure to light.
Here are a few places where mold can lurk. But keep in mind that mold can grow anywhere indoors given the right conditions.
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Identify And Prevent Mold Growth Problems In Your Apartment
Understanding how and why mold can grow in your apartment, as well as knowing how to identify a potential problem is critical to avoiding the negative health effects of mold exposure.
If you do suspect a problem, contact your landlord as soon as possible and inform them of your concerns. The earlier you identify a mold infestation, the easier it will likely be to deal with. And if your landlord refuses to take action, consider contacting your municipal health department, property standards office, and legal action to get a fast resolution.
Ferro Canada is a leading environmental services company specializing in mold testing and removal. If you have mold growing in your commercial or residential building, contact our C.R.A.S.H Team and speak to an expert today.
Addressing Moisture And Mould In Your Home
Health Canada considers indoor mould growth to be a significant health hazard. The word mould is a common term referring to fungi that can grow on building materials in homes or other buildings. Damp conditions and mould growth in homes increases the risk of respiratory allergy symptoms and exacerbate asthma in mold-sensitive individuals. It is important to know how to identify, address and prevent moisture and mould in your home.
People living in homes with mould and damp conditions are more likely to have:
- eye, nose and throat irritation
- coughing and phlegm build-up
- wheezing and shortness of breath
- worsening of asthma symptoms
The level of concern depends on the extent of mould, how long it has been present and the sensitivity and overall health of the residents. Some people are more susceptible than others. For example, infants, children, the elderly and those with health problems such as breathing difficulties are more at risk from mould and dampness.
Any respiratory health concerns should be discussed with a physician if you suspect that these could be caused by poor indoor air quality. Your physician is best suited to determine if your symptoms may be related to environmental factors or some other underlying cause.
Health Canada recommends controlling dampness indoors and cleaning up any mould regardless of the type of mould presentFootnote 1.
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Landlords Responsibility To Mold Disclosure
Although federal law does not require you to disclose a mold infestation in the property to potential renters, some states do, including California and New York. You should check your state’s legislation to see whether you are required to disclose an issue with mold.
Keep in mind: Even if your state does not demand landlords disclose mold issues, one may be responsible for not disclosing it. A court might see foreknowledge of a potentially hazardous condition caused by mold and the failure to remedy it as a breach of the habitability warranty.
Health Problems That Are Caused By Mold
- Asthma, in people who never had asthma
- Frequent and more severe asthma attacks in people who have asthma
- Lung Infection, especially in people with a suppressed immune response such as cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, those with HIV, and those who have received a stem cell or organ transplant
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How To Find Mold In Your Home
Damage caused by mold growth in your home can be a huge inconvenience and if the damage is severe enough, costly to repair. Mold forms in environments where moisture is present and it is important to know how to detect when there is mold growth in your home. This article addresses how to find mold in your home.
How And Where Does Mold Grow
The combination of moisture and nutrients provides the perfect environment for mold growth. It usually grows as a result of poor ventilation or structural weakness that allows water to seep in from the outside. Different types of mold grow on different materials, such as carpet, water pipes, cardboard boxes or ceiling tiles. Humidity and warmth provide ideal growing conditions for the organism. Not all mold is harmful the mold on your bathroom tile, for example, isnt a health concern. Discoloration and musty odors are usually a sign to check for mold in your property.
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Mold: Is It The Landlord’s Responsibility
Staying on top of property maintenance should keep your rental mold-free, but if the spores strike, act quickly to prevent mold growth, property damage and health problems.
Mold: You hope you dont have it, you cant always see it, but you cant ignore it. What you can do is take steps to prevent and eliminate mold if those nasty little spores start appearing in your rental property.
There arent any set legal limits for maximum exposure, but there have been numerous cases of tenants suing their landlords for damages and health problems caused by the presence of toxic mold in the unit. Renters havent always won these cases, but the legal costs and hassle can cause headaches either way and responsible landlords should ensure that their properties are safe and comfortable for their residents.
Its worth your time to examine your property for mold and take measures to prevent its growth.
How Do I Get My Landlord To Fix A Mold Problem
The landlord may be insured against mold, but if not, he or she is ultimately responsible for keeping the rental property in habitable condition which means, he or she is responsible for fixing water leaks and remediating the resulting mold.
Mold Problems in New Jersey Rental Properties
In NJ, there is no specific law requiring landlords to disclose the presence of mold in the rental property, but there is a statute requiring them to notify tenants if the property is in a flood zone .
In NJ, landlords are responsible for maintaining their rental properties in habitable condition. If you feel the landlord has been negligent in maintaining the property, you can report unrepaired leaks to your local building code official, which you can find by clicking here. You also may be entitled to self-help such as rent withholding or leaving the property without negative consequences and with the return of your full security deposit.
Mold Problems in Pennsylvania Rental Properties
Just as in NJ, there are no statutes or regulations that require landlords to disclose the presence of mold to tenants in PA. Can you withhold rent for mold in PA? Yes, a tenant may have the right to withhold rent due to mold or to leave the property without financial consequences.
Whether you live in NJ or PA, contact us to find out whether these remedies are available to you and whether you should sue your landlord.
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