What You Can Do If Youre A Tenant In Texas
Tenants might feel like there is nothing they can do if they look up one day and see their ceiling spotted with a constellation of black dots.
Some landlords are very helpful, but others are notoriously slow to deal with tenant complaints. Many are even out-of-state investors who only collect rent checks and rely on property managers to deal with apartment issues.
When this is the case, sometimes tenants have to take matters into their own hands. Texas courts have recognized two self-help strategies for tenants after a mold outbreak on a rental property:
See the Texas Tenants Rights Handbook for more information on both strategies.
Getting Sick From Mould In Apartments: What Can Be Done
WITHIN THE CONTROL OF THE TENANTOUTSIDE OF THE CONTROL OF THE TENANTFORCING A LANDLORD TO DEAL WITH A MOULD PROBLEMGETTING AN ORDER TO FIXfit for habitation20. LANDLORDS RESPONSIBILITY TO REPAIR— A landlord is responsible for providing and maintaining a residential complex, including the rental units in it, in a good state of repair and fit for habitation and for complying with health, safety, housing and maintenance standards. SAME—Subsection applies even if the tenant was aware of a state of non-repair or a contravention of a standard before entering in the tenancy agreement.WHAT A TENANT SHOULD DEMONSTRATE
Landlord Liability For Mold In Indiana
There is currently no federal law covering a landlord’s responsibilities when it comes to mold. Also, although Indiana has enacted laws to regulate mold in schools and state agencies, the state has not yet specifically addressed a landlord’s duties or liability when it comes to mold prevention and remediation.
However, tenants who believe they have been harmed by the presence of high concentrations of mold in their apartment can try to recover damages from their landlord in court to compensate them for their loss. If a judge or jury agrees that the landlord negligently created a mold problem or allowed one to continue at a property, the landlord could be on the hook for any harm.
For example, after tenants at an Indianapolis apartment complex discovered a widespread mold problem in their building, a tenant reported it to county health officials. In addition to being present in apartments, the mold affected common areas including stairwells and the laundry room, according to a press report. County inspectors visited the complex several times and issued orders for the landlord to address the problems through mold remediation as well as plumbing and other building repairs. In the meantime, the tenants reportedly stopped paying rent until the mold issue was resolved.
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How Tenant Obligations Work
When a tenant signs a lease to rent an apartment, they are agreeing to adhere to the terms of that agreement. They have an obligation to uphold their end of the bargain.
If they fail to follow the terms of the lease they signed, it would be a breach of contract, and the landlord may be entitled to collect damages.
The exact terms of a lease vary widely, but as long as they are legal and not outlawed in the state or municipality where the rental takes place, the tenant is required to follow them.
For example, if someone rents an apartment and signs a lease, they are committing to taking good care of the rental. If a lightbulb goes out, they replace it if the toilet clogs, they unclog it. Since they have an obligation to care for the apartment, they regularly take out the trash, clean and maintain the fridge and stove, and try to be a good neighbor to the other people in the building. By living up to these standards , they are fulfilling their obligations as a tenant.
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Should I Be Concerned About My Health If Exposed To Mold
We are all exposed to some amount of mold every day. Not everyone is sensitive to or bothered by mold. Over time, exposure to active mold spores can cause or worsen health problems especially for infants/young children, the elderly, persons with weak immune systems , persons with allergies, asthmatics, and persons with chronic respiratory conditions.
Symptoms of mold sensitivity include:
- Upper respiratory symptoms
- Eye irritation
- Wheezing/asthma symptoms
The Environmental Health Department recommends that you check with your doctor if you suspect a sensitivity to mold.
What To Do As A Homeowner If You Find Mold In Your Apartment
If you own your apartment, it may be on you to pay to have your unit tested for mold, and if the problem stems from your unit , you may have to pay for mold remediation yourself. On the other hand, if that mold growth didn’t originate within your unit, but rather, traveled in the form of airborne spores, then there may be a problem that needs to be addressed at the building level. At that point, your homeowners association or co-op board will need to address the issue at hand.
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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.
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.
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What If Mold Keeps Coming Back In The Same Areas After It Is Cleaned Up
Mold grows in areas that are kept wet or moist, so simply cleaning up mold is insufficient if there continues to be a water leak, water build-up , moisture build-up, or standing water . If mold regrows in an area where it has already been cleaned, that is an indication that the source of the problem has not been addressed.
Reporting Black Mold In Your Workplace
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Obligation To Manage Security Deposit Or Prepaid Rent
The first obligation of every landlord has to do with a tenant’s security deposit. Every landlord has the right to charge their tenants a security deposit even though this deposit never actually belongs to the landlord. Instead, this deposit is a form of security for the landlord in case the tenant fails to pay rent, damages the property or otherwise breaches the lease agreement.
Landlords have an obligation to follow the statewide and local laws regarding the security deposit. For instance, certain states set limits on the maximum amount of security a landlord can charge a tenant for a deposit. There are also specific rules for storing the security deposit, returning the security deposit and what to do with the security deposit if you sell your property. Landlords are obligated to follow these laws or they can face legal consequences for failing to do so.
Are There Any Laws Regarding The Safety Of A Rental Environment
Your landlords responsibility and liability in handling a mold problem can vary from state to state. The federal government has no established standards where this environmental and health hazard is concerned.
However, a few states as well as some municipalities, have passed their own guidelines. Searching the National Conference of State Legislatures database for mold will help you determine if any statutes exist for your own local community. Even if you live in an area where no laws are in place to address the issue of mold in a residential rental, your landlord still has a responsibility to provide proper maintenance and repairs.
But just as the landlord has obligations where mold is concerned, so do tenants.
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How Much Time Does A Landlord Have To Remove Mold From My Apartment Or House
It depends on how you send notice to the landlord to repair or remedy the problem, and on the circumstances of the condition and its repair.
The landlord has a reasonable amount of time to remove the mold after receiving the tenants notice if:
- The tenant sent the notice by certified mail, return receipt, or other method with tracking or
- The tenant sent a second written notice after waiting a reasonable amount of time after sending a first written notice.
Tip: If you send your first notice by certified mail, return receipt, or other method with tracking, you are not required to send a second notice to your landlord.
Note: You should try getting the problem fixed as quickly as possible by talking with or calling the landlord. However, to protect your rights to repair under Texas law, it is very important that you give the landlord , preferably by certified mail, return receipt, or other method with tracking.
Is My Landlord Responsible For Mold Testing
According to California law, landlords are not required to test your rental property for specific levels of mold. However, as of 2016, California law does require that landlords repair or remediate any mold found in the rental home. An example of this would be if your landlord sees any mold growth in your apartment, or smells the scent of mold, then your landlord must fix the mold as well as the problem causing the growth of the mold. This might require that your landlord dry any damp areas, repair water damaged areas, and remove or clean surfaces where mold has grown.
California does not require that a landlord provide you with a written disclosure if you moved into an apartment unit after mold growth had been previously and properly repaired. Further, it is important to note that no other landowner may be held liable for damage caused by âan Act of God.â However, a property owner such as a landlord may obtain natural disaster insurance in order to cover damages caused by these âActs of God.â Mold damage is typically included in such insurance policies.
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Tip #: Fix All Leaks As Soon As Possible
Without prompt water damage restoration, mold growth starts in as fast as 48 hours. Here are some things you can do to prevent a mold problem:
- Deal with any mold growth as soon as you find it to prevent further growth and possible health complications.
- During routine inspections, check for any leaks or water damage beneath cabinets and around all water fixtures.
- Encourage your tenant to place a maintenance request immediately when they spot a mold problem.
- Always conduct a move-in inspection before the tenant moves in.
As a landlord in Florida, its your responsibility to ensure your tenants live in habitable living conditions. Among other things, that means ensuring your property adheres to Floridas landlord-tenant laws regarding mold.
Here’s what Beth Johnson, a satisfied Markham customer, had to say about working with us:
I could not be more pleased with the promptness and professionalism of Markham Services. It is not an easy time when you have issues in your home particularly when they could be making you sick. They put my mind at ease as I knew that I was being given accurate information by people that knew what they were talking about! Thank you Liz and Marvin!
Mold issues can progress very quickly and are a hazard to your health. Don’t wait to schedule your appointment.
What To Do If You Have Mold In Apartment
Mold emits musty odours, which are caused by microbial volatile organic compounds emitted by the mold spores. These fumes are especially strong and prominent in small spaces such as apartments.
Besides health hazards and odours, the appearance of mold can wreak havoc on the structural integrity of your apartment, as it damages walls, ceilings, furniture and upholstery.
For smaller contaminated areas, you can clean them using vinegar and water, but make sure to dry them thoroughly afterward.
In many cases, tackling mold and mildew should be left entirely to the professionals. Its important that the job is done right the first time, to ensure a proper and safe remediation.
If you suspect theres an issue with mold or mildew in your apartment, contact your landlord immediately and request professional mold remediation.
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Indoor Mold After A Weather Event
Many South Carolina residents are concerned about indoor mold as a result of severe weather disasters. As part of our commitment to assist those who have been affected, DHEC has compiled the following information to guide decisions regarding mold in homes and workplaces.
If you’re experiencing any issues with flooding, below is an important resource number to be aware of.
- Mold Hotline: for general information.
Tip #: Use Mold Inhibitors In Your Propertys Paint
Mold spores are always going to be present. In the presence of moisture, they can grow rather quickly. Mold inhibitors work by effectively preventing mold spores from attaching to painted surfaces and growing.
So, the next time you are sprucing up your apartment for the next tenants, consider adding inhibitors to the paint.
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What Does Mold Look Like
Chances are, you’ve seen a piece of bread turn moldy at least once in your lifetime. In that situation, mold growth usually manifests as bright green spots that are easy to see.
But a mold infestation inside an apartment doesn’t always look like that. In fact, you may be more likely to spot black mold rather than green mold. That mold usually appears as clusters of black dots in places like walls and ceilings or underneath sinks. Mold growth can also take the form of discolored surfaces — like a section of your wall or ceiling that looks like water damage and doesn’t quite match the rest of it.
Keep in mind, however, that toxic mold isn’t always visible. You should suspect mold growth, however, if your apartment suddenly starts smelling funky — specifically, like stale air. Furthermore, if you suddenly start experiencing health problems, mold issues may be to blame.
When Does Mold Become Harmful To Health
According to information provided by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control, and the NYC Department of Health, most molds that grow in small quantities are harmless for healthy people but obvious mold growths in homes or work places should be cleaned up immediately.
Some molds can be very harmful to humans, especially young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. Even healthy people can develop severe illnesses and allergies when exposed to large mold growths. Illnesses related to mold growth include allergic reactions , asthma, and severe respiratory problems.
Tenants around the country have complained for years about very severe illnesses, including hemorrhaging lungs, caused by mycotoxins which are chemicals produced by some harmful molds. In large quantities, according to some sources, mold mycotoxins can induce allergies and chronic, severe health problems in previously healthy people.
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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.