Reporting Black Mold In Your Workplace
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
What Are Black Mold Health Symptoms
We all know mold isnt welcomed in the home, but did you know too that breathing in the presence of mold can harm your health? There are over 2,000 different species of mold and the most dangerous of all is called Stachybotrys Chartarum, also known as black mold or the invisible killer.
Why is black mold so dangerous? Black mold releases toxic spores that linger in the air and attack your respiratory health. The potency of these toxic spores has proved to be the most detrimental to human health.
Black mold often appears as slimy and greenish-black. If its water source runs out, it can also appear as dry and powdery. Black mold is also dangerous because its sometimes difficult to distinguish from other species of mold.
The following are health symptoms associated with black mold exposure:
- Eye irritation
In severe cases, symptoms caused by inhaling black mold can lead to the following health troubles:
- Respiratory complications
Sometimes mold invades spaces that are hard to see and reach. It spreads fast, burrowing into walls and ceilings and hiding in cupboards and under carpets. Quite often, people are exposed to black mold without even knowing it. If you or anyone in your home is experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms without knowing why, you may be exposed to mold.
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Can I Just Remove The Mold Myself And Reduce The Amount I Pay My Landlord In Rent That Month
No. The repair and deduct method is not automatic and only reduces a future rent payment . This method is not recommended without the advice of a lawyer.
If you want to have the mold removed , you must either:
- get a court order requiring the landlord to remove the mold, or
- follow the repair and deduct rules in Tex. Prop. Code § 92.0561 that, for example:
- limit the rent deduction for the cost of repair in any given month to the greater of one months rent or $500.00 ,
- limit the rent deduction for the cost of repair in any given month to the greater of the fair market value of one months rent or $500.00 ,
- only allow a tenant to repair and deduct if the landlord has a duty to fix the problem, and
- only allow the tenant to repair and deduct if the tenant did not waive his or her right to the repair in an enforceable provision in the lease agreement. , .)
Note: An exception exists if you and your landlord agreed in writing for you to repair a condition at the landlords expense. Read the law here: Tex. Prop. Code § 92.0561, .
Mold Disclosure Requirements In Texas
Texas doesn’t have any statutes or regulations that require landlords to disclose high concentrations of mold in rental properties to prospective tenants or buyers. 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.
To learn more about landlord disclosure requirements in Texas, check out Texas Required Landlord Disclosures.
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Who Is Responsible For Mold In A Rental Apartment
When it comes to mold, there are no well-defined boundaries for individual mold tolerance. Very few states have regulations in place that define what level of mold, if any, is acceptable in homes. Visit the health departments website for your state to learn more.
Not having regulations doesnt mean you no longer have the right to live in a mold-free environment. Just by the nature of the tenant-landlord relationship, its the landlords responsibility to address and fix plumbing issues if doing so is outlined in the lease.
If you feel mold is growing because of a water leak due to a pipe that was your landlords responsibility to fix. Your landlord can be held accountable for addressing and correcting the mold problem.
You might be entitled to withhold future rent payments until the landlord fixes the issue. You might even have a legitimate legal claim against your landlord if their negligence led to the presence of the mold in the first place. Dont withhold rent, however, until after youve sought consultation from an attorney.
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.
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Liability For Toxic Mold In Texas
If you have health problems caused by mold on a Texas property you are leasing, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the landlord or property manager.
It is their responsibility to keep the property in habitable shape and to protect the tenants physical health and safety, as noted before, in Texas. As such, any problems associated with the building would be their problem to handle.
Also, if you just purchased a new home in Texas and toxic mold becomes obvious, the previous owner could be held liable for losses. If the previous owners knew about the mold problem, they were legally obligated to disclose this information to potential buyers.
Just like they were obligated to tell you about a leaky roof, they had to tell you about the black mold if they knew about it.
Where To Report Mold Problems As A Tenant
California is one of a handful of states that strictly regulates mold growth in rental properties. The presence of mold in your apartment or home can affect the indoor air quality, causing you to suffer from a range of harmful health effects from the spores. When you suspect mold growth, you have several methods available to report it. Once the mold is reported and verified, the landlord can take steps to eradicate it.
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Where Does Mold Grow
Mold can grow on any surface that is kept wet or damp, such as a drywall, wood, tiles, or rugs.
In New York City, common sources of a mold problem are:
- leaky pipes or radiators
- broken or poorly sealed windows
- a damaged roof
- a damaged or deteriorated section of brickwork or the buildings facade
- water coming from a neighboring apartment
- air ducts
- poor ventilation, especially in a bathroom
- standing water
When mold develops on a consistently wet surface, it will grow into a musty, mildewy-smelling orange or black yuck that will likely be recognizable as mold. However, the mold may be coming from an area that is covered or hidden, such as a vent underneath a refrigerator, radiator, or sink or behind a wall that is tiled.
Mold In Apartment Rentals: Who Is Responsible For Removing It
There are currently no federal laws, as well as very few state laws, that cover the landlords responsibility when it comes to mold or mold spores. However, according to the Implied Warranty of Habitability, landlords have a legal duty to maintain their rental property. They must ensure that a rental property is fit and livable for the entire duration of a tenants lease.
Landlords must address maintenance issues that could lead to excess moisture or mold issues for renters. This includes fixing leaky pipes, windows, or roofs throughout the rental property, as well as ensuring that exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms are working properly. If the rental property is located in a humid climate, the landlord may also install dehumidifiers to prevent mold growth.
Landlords must also conduct regular property inspections to ensure that the rental units are fit and livable. Through regular inspections, landlords can make the necessary fixes to prevent mold growth in apartment units.
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What Should I Do If My Health Has Been Harmed By Hazardous Mold
If you feel your health has been harmed due to hazardous mold exposure, talk with an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately. Owners of property could potentially be held responsible for health effects you are able to prove you suffered due to exposure to hazardous conditions on the property. A personal injury lawyer can help you determine if you have a toxic mold claim that is connected to your mold exposure.
Note: Since gathering of evidence and environmental testing is critical to a toxic mold claim, you should talk with a lawyer quickly so you may begin to prepare evidence for your potential claim.
For more information on mold and toxins, see the Center for Disease Controls site: .
How Do You Even Know You Have Mold In Your Property
According to the Center for Disease Control , mold has been on our planet for millions of years. Mold can enter a property through open doors, windows, vents, and heating and air conditioning systems, via damage to the property that allows water in, or through a flood. Mold will grow anywhere there is moisture and can grow on just about anything, such as paper, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood, paint, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.
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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.
Discovering Black Mold In Your Rental: First Steps
Suing your landlord for black mold should not be the first response upon discovering it in your rental, provided you haven’t suffered any health problems from being exposed. As with most landlord-tenant disputes, you should contact the landlord immediately upon discovering mold . The landlord is legally responsible for removing the mold and reimbursing you for any additional costs you have sustained. Even if you don’t suffer any injuries, a landlord’s failure to maintain a mold-free environment violates the implied warranty of habitability.
If the landlord fully takes care of a mold issue but you later exhibit health problems that you suspect were caused by the earlier mold exposure, you still may claim damages. If your landlord contradicts your concerns that your rental unit is contaminated with black mold, it’s up to you to pay for an inspection and testing but landlords who refuse to even consider the presence of toxic mold in such instances may open themselves up to increased liability.
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What If My Landlord Fails To Clean Up The Mold
Follow the steps you would take with any serious repair problem:
- To report a mold problem in your apartment or common building areas, call the NYC Dept of Health at 311 You can also report mold and any chronic leaks from pipes, improperly working drains, or roof leaks, to the NYC Dept. Of Housing, Preservation and Development, also by calling 311.
- Write a letter to your landlord describing the problem and the steps you have taken to get the problem fixed. Be sure to date the letter, keep a copy and send it to the landlord by certified mail, return-receipt requested. You may want to share information about mold with the landlord, to better ensure that the clean up is properly done.
If your landlord fails to act promptly, you can sue the landlord in Housing Court by starting an HP Action for repairs and servcies. You can start this on your own, or as a group of tenants from the same building. You do not need a lawyer, and there are people in the Housing Court who can help you fill out the paperwork. If you have a low income, you can ask the court to waive the fees associated with filing the case.
For more detailed instructions about all of the procedures, read our information sheet on Getting Repairs.
What Is Considered A Reasonable Amount Of Time To Make A Repair Or Remedy A Problem
Seven days is generally considered a reasonable amount of time. However, the court can consider a different length of time to be reasonable based on:
- The date the landlord received the notice,
- The severity and nature of the condition, and
- The reasonable availability of materials and labor and of utilities access.
Note: Exceptions apply to the timing to complete a repair if the damage to the rental property was an insured casualty loss. If the mold problem is a covered condition, the landlord has a reasonable amount of time after receiving the insurance proceeds to complete the repairs. Talk with a lawyer about your right to end your lease before the problem is corrected or receive a rent reduction if the property becomes totally unusable during the time your landlord is waiting for insurance proceeds to make a repair.
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Theres Mold In My Apartment: What Do I Do
Mold isnt just ugly to look atits dangerous to be around, especially for older adults, children, and people with certain health problems, like asthma. While there are some things you can do on your own, your landlord is legally required to fix the problem, whether youre in public or private housing. Use the steps below as a guide for getting your mold problem under control.
How Do You Know You Have A Mold Infection
Mold spores cause irritation and an allergic response if touched or inhaled. Symptoms of toxic mold exposure may include, but are not limited to:
- Trouble breathing or wheezing or asthma
- Irritated eyes, or tears and itching eyes
- Coughing due to irritated throat
- In severe or prolonged cases, memory loss
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Who Is Responsible For Dealing With Mold In Apartments
As of 2016, there are no federal laws in the United States regarding mold and landlord/tenant responsibilities. A few states have laws related to this subject, including California, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey and Texas. Some cities also have relevant laws, including San Francisco and New York City. Even if you live in an area without laws addressing the subject of apartment mold specifically, though, in all states landlords are expected to provide a habitable rental unit. If mold is making your apartment unsafe to live in, your landlord is responsible for fixing the problem.
In general, landlords are responsible for mold remediation if mold results from something the landlord is responsible for repairing. For instance, if a leaky roof leads to mold growth, the landlord would probably be responsible for removing the mold as well as repairing the roof. Tenants are not typically responsible for roof repair and therefore they arent usually responsible for removing mold that results from a leaky roof.
You should consult an attorney if you need legal advice about a specific situation.
If you have renters insurance – and we recommend all renters purchase insurance for their own protection – it may cover the cost of some of your belongings if they are ruined by mold. It will depend on the specific coverage your policy provides and on the cause of the mold. Contact your insurance agent if you have questions.