Learn About Your Landlord’s Liability For Mold Problems How To Get Rid Of Mold And How To Prevent It In The First Place
By , Attorney
Mold is an environmental hazard that can cause concern among renters. Across the country, tenants have won multimillion-dollar cases against landlords for significant health problemssuch as rashes, chronic fatigue, nausea, cognitive losses, hemorrhaging, and asthmaallegedly caused by exposure to “toxic molds” in their building.
If you suspect there is mold in your rental unit, learn what to look for and when your landlord might be liable. Even better, take steps to prevent mold before it becomes a problemor clean mold up before it does become a problem.
Contact Us About Mold
Report possible violations of environmental laws and regulations.
EPAs website provides information on mold, its effects on indoor air quality and health, and guidance for addressing mold issues in homes. Please read the following resources before submitting a question.
Please note:EPA does not inspect homes for mold or other general indoor air issues and cannot intervene in landlord/tenant issues. For information on state laws and policies to improve indoor air quality, please see the Environmental Law Institutes Database of State IAQ Laws. You can also find contact information for health and environmental agencies in your state on our Health and Environmental Agencies of U.S. States and Territories webpage.
If you are experiencing health effects that you think are attributable to mold or other indoor air issues in your home, please consult a medical professional. EPA cannot diagnose illnesses or their causes.
Search our Frequently Asked Questions:
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If you still can’t find your answer, send us your questions or comments:
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Things A Landlord Must Legally Do
Landlord-tenant laws were created to serve as a blueprint for the interactions, rights, and obligations of both landlords and tenants. While each states laws will vary slightly, there are some general duties and services that every landlord must provide. Here are five basic obligations every landlord must follow regardless of the state where he or she owns rental property.*
A landlords duties under landlord-tenant law are typically broken down into five parts:
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How Do I Clean Up Mold
Clean-up of small areas of mold can be safely done by an individual home owner, who takes the proper precautions. It is important to take precautions to limit your exposure to mold and mold spores.
The following are basic steps recommended by the EPA:
- Scrub mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely.
- Fix plumbing leaks and other water problems as soon as possible. Dry all items completely.
- Absorbent or porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet, may have to be thrown away if they become moldy. Mold can grow on or fill in the empty spaces and crevices of porous materials, so the mold may be difficult or impossible to remove completely.
- Avoid exposing yourself or others to mold.
- Do not paint or caulk moldy surfaces. Clean up the mold and dry the surfaces before painting. Paint applied over moldy surfaces is likely to peel.
- If you are unsure about how to clean an item, or if the item is expensive or of sentimental value, you may wish to consult a specialist. Look for specialists who are affiliated with professional organizations.
- If the problem area is large and material needs to be replaced, you may want to Hiring Home Mold Remediation Professionals whom specialize in this.
Protection tips for cleaning:
Can I Charge My Landlord Or Get A Reduction In Rent For Having Mold In My Apartment
Rent stabilized and rent controlled tenants can request a rent reduction based on reduced services by filing a complaint with the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal. DHCR tends to act slowly and has limited enforcement powers, so tenants who request a rent reduction from DHCR are strongly encouraged to also take other steps, such as suing the landlord in Housing Court in an HP Action.
If the mold growth was caused by the landlords negligence, you may have a claim against your landlord. To seek reimbursement for damages to your property or expenses related to cleanup, you can sue your landlord in small claims court. Keep receipts of all expenses related to inspections, medical bills related to the issue, and cleanup. You might be able to avoid court by negotiating with your landlord.
You have the right by law to withold your rent, and when your landlord sues to evict you and collect unpaid rent, to ask for an abatement However, there are numerous potentially serious consequences for withholding rent. Always seek the counsel of an experienced tenant lawyer or tenant advocate before deciding to withhold rent.
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Responsibilities As A Tenant If You Have Mold In A Rental
There are many situations where a landlord or property manager can be blamed for mold problems in a rental property.
However, there are many situations where the tenant is actually to blame for a mold problem. So lets go ahead and look at the responsibility of a tenant as it relates to mold.
Your landlord is not a mind reader. If you do not let them know of any problems, how can it possibly be handled?
It is your responsibility to disclose any kind of leaks, small or large. You should report any water damage both verbally and in writing . That way it is on the record and there can be no dispute with he said, she said.
Time is of an essence when it comes to water damage. That is why it is so important if a leak occurs, you do the best you can to clean up as much of the water as possible.
I am not saying if a pipe bursts that you have to clean and dry everything up by yourself. Do what you can. If you can clean up the standing water with some towels it can greatly help. If you happen to have any heavy duty fans go ahead and set those up. Be careful to ensure none of the electric sockets got wet before plugging in the fan.
You should notify your landlord or property manager right away to have a Property Damage Restoration Company come to dry out the water damaged areas. Allowing these companies access into your home is essential. A tenant is expected to comply to preserve the habitability of a home.
Air Conditioning Unit
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.
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I Think I Have Mold Growing In My House/apartment Will The Austin Code Department Address The Mold
Austin Code Department does not conduct mold inspection or testing. We may address the contributing factors that fall under minimum standards. Mold is often a sign of other code violations.
Mold could be the result of:
- Improper home weatherization like unsealed windows or door frames.
- Water leaks from air conditioner units, sink pipes, or roofs.
- Ventilation problems that lead to trapped moisture.
Fixing the contributing factors
If you live in a rental property and have issues that contribute to mold, Austin Code may be able to assist. Rental properties include apartments, duplexes, townhomes, or houses.
If your property representative has not fixed the issue, you can call 3-1-1 or submit a report online. A code inspector will check for code violations. If there is a code violation, the landlord will receive a Notice of Violation. The landlord will have a reasonable amount of time to fix a problem after receiving the request.
Minor mold issues can be prevented by following the guidelines below.
Visit the CDC website to learn more about mold.
Talk to a Code inspector
If you have issues with your landlord, Austin Tenants Council may be able to help. Their renters program provides counseling, helps with tenant-landlord issues and, dispute mediation. For more information, call 512-474-1961.
Read the Landlord and Tenants Guide for renters produced by Texas A& M University.
Mold inspections and removals
State requirements and licenses
Black Mold And Warranty Of Habitability
Fundamental tenants rights are included in the warranty of habitability, which says, in part, that tenants have the right to rent a property that meets basic living and safety standards.
That means the landlord is responsible for ensuring the units they oversee provide such an environment. This guarantee, or warranty, is extended to tenants not only at the time they sign the lease but remains in effect through the duration of the tenants occupancy.
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Is Black Mold Growing Due To Your Negligence
Keep in mind that you cannot blame the landlord for your mold problem if its growing because of something youve done or neglected to do. If the apartment isnt properly ventilated to help eliminate humidity. If you dont perform proper cleaning then you may have trouble filing a lawsuit against the landlord.
This is because tenants have certain obligations when they rent an apartment, and not doing your part doesnt make the landlord responsible. To avoid such situations, make sure you do what you can to limit mold growth by ensuring air can easily move through and that the apartment stays clean and free of standing water.
Tips And Techniques For Mold Cleanup
While much has been written about mold cleanup, the simplest advice is still the best Control the Moisture, Control the Mold. Without moisture, mold will not grow. With sufficient moisture, mold will keep coming back no matter how many times it is cleaned up.
Take the following steps when mold is spotted or suspected:
- Stop the mold growth by finding and repairing the source of the excess moisture. Fix the plumbing leaks, roof leak, flooding, a large spill or high relative humidity.
- Dry all items within 24-48 hours.
- Porous items such as drywall, ceiling tiles, carpeting, padding, books, clothing and other paper or cloth materials soak up moisture. Items that are not dried quickly should be discarded if they show signs of mold or water damage.
- Scrub mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, then dry.
- If the water was from a sewage backup or flood, the items should probably be discarded. If you clean the items, use a diluted household bleach solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. Avoid breathing the fumes, getting on skin, or in eyes. Note: Do not mix bleach with other cleaners!
- For more information, see
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Black Mold Is A Health Hazard
Technically known as Stachybotrys chartarum, black mold poses a serious threat to human health by causing respiratory problems, mental impairment, skin inflammation, and internal organ damage.
Black mold thrives in moist, dark places that have poor air circulation like between walls or beneath floorboards. That means it can go unnoticed until its too late.
What Is Toxic Mold
Some molds can produce toxins under certain circumstances, but this does not occur everywhere there is mold growth. Research on the presence, detection and effects of mold toxins is ongoing. One mold in particular, Stachybotrys atra has received a lot of attention.
The initial reports on the health affects of this mold have been revised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fear of mold has been sensationalized in the news media and on many websites, and citizens need to be cautious when considering expensive testing and be informed about the kind of information that the testing will yield.
As a rule, mold testing in private homes when visible mold growth is present is not recommended by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention nor the US Environmental Protection Agency.
It is stressed, however, that all mold, no matter the type, must be properly cleaned-up and moisture in the home must be controlled.
- The key to mold control is moisture control.
- If mold is a problem in your home, you should clean up the mold promptly and fix the water problem.
- It is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
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We Will Litigate Your Black Mold Lawsuit
Yes, you can sue your landlord for mold issues. Whether youve just noticed mold, you or members of your family have developed symptoms of mold infection, or your household goods or personal property were damaged by mold, give us a call to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
We know how to win a mold case, and weve gotten our clients black mold lawsuit settlements and judgments. Our toxic mold lawyers will evaluate your case at no cost to you and help you file a lawsuit to recover monetary damages as well as make sure your rental property is a safe place to live for you and your family.
+++++ Disclaimer+++++ This blog is considered advertising and does not constitute any client-attorney privilege and does not offer any advice or opinion on any legal matter. This blog was drafted by Digital Mixology a digital marketing, Public Relations, advertising, and content marketing firm located in Philadelphia, PA.
Saffren & Weinberg
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What Apartment Mold Symptoms Should Worry Me
Mold is a fungus that grows in the presence of moisture in warm, dark places. It releases tiny little spores into the air and, if left untreated, can make you really sick. Those spores can settle into your lungs.
You might have mold if you witness or experience any of the following:
- A persistent musty smell
- You see black or dark green spots appearing on any surface
- You start having physical symptoms like sneezing, coughing, trouble breathing, itchy eyes, or skin rashes that get better when you leave your apartment
- You see signs of water intrusion like bulging drywall, bubbling or peeling paint, and/or discoloration from water stains that werent dried out immediately.
You might only see or feel just one symptom, but it is very important not to ignore signs of mold for the sake of your health. Each of these apartment mold symptoms is a cause for concern.
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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.
Can I Refuse To Pay Rent If There Is Mold
Tenants cannot simply refuse to pay rent if there is mold in the apartment. You must first check state and local laws, as well as the terms of your lease. Tenants must also ensure that they take the proper steps of dealing with mold such as providing proper notice to the landlord. If the landlord fails to act within a reasonable time frame, the tenant might be able to withhold rent, break the lease early, or file a lawsuit for mold-related health issues.
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