There are so many legal suits filed by tenants against property owners in US federal and state courts over health issues arising from mold exposure. Such legal suits are very expensive and time-consuming and if one were to avoid them, the better. As a renter, knowing more about mold can help you deal with it or know what to do when your apartment is infested with some.
Tenant Responsibilities on Apartment Mold
The main cause for mold growth in a rental property is moisture problems in the apartment. However, sometimes it is also a result of poor air quality and dirt accumulation in the apartment. Although in most cases apartment mold is a result of the landlord’s behavior, sometimes the tenants have a role to play in it. This could be due to lack of maintaining high standards of hygiene in the apartment, leaving damp linens in the house, and not opening the windows or not turning the dehumidifier on often, leading to moisture buildup. If it is the behavior of the tenant, which led to mold growth and exposure, the law does not apply in any way, regardless of whether there are federal or state laws protecting tenants against mold exposure. It, therefore, means that you too have a responsibility to maintain air quality to prevent mold growth and exposure. For example, you should ensure the apartment is tested for mold before signing the rental agreement clause.
Landlord Responsibilities on Apartment Mold
Having seen that the main reason behind mold growth is moisture problems, the bigger responsibility then lies on the landlord to ensure that there are no moisture sources in the apartment. This means that if even before mold starts to grow in your apartment, the landlord should have ensured that all taps and pipe connections are tightly screwed, the ceiling and the roof are in perfect working conditions, the HVAC is working just fine and that the windows are tightly fitted. You need to look out for these things when searching for a good apartment to live in the first place. This is because these are the main sources of moisture that leads to mold growth, especially in the most hidden surfaces. If you see an issue in those areas, you should speak freely so that the landlord can fix them. In the same way, you should raise concerns when you spot some mold, it is the landlord’s responsibility to have it removed at their cost. However, this is only if the growth was because of their failure or behavior. If the landlord declines the request, you should then seek help from your state department of health and environmental services.
Laws and Mold
As it stands, there are no clearly defined or set guidelines on the landlord’s responsibilities on mold, not even statutes or regulations. However, if you live in the states of California, New Jersey, Texas, Indiana, and Maryland, you can breathe a sigh of relief. This is because these sates have taken steps in trying to come up with permissible standards and guidelines concerning mold exposure in rental houses. However, it is common sense that the landlord should do all they can to keep their tenants safe from mold exposure by sealing all loopholes for moisture buildup in the apartment. If the landlord fails on their part and the mold exposure caused you some health conditions that impact your way of living and you manage to convince the jury and the judge, then you might be compensated.
Most landlords do not like trouble and will disclose all the relevant information regarding mold in the leasing agreement. However, there are still some rogue landlords who will try to evade the responsibility of mold testing and remediation in the rental house by hiding some information when signing the agreement. You as a tenant should read the lease clause very carefully and raise any concerns that might lead to mold exposure before signing it.
Upon seeing some mold growth in a rental house, the best thing to do as a tenant is to document it and report it to the landlord so that they can take appropriate action soonest possible. Since wise landlords will try to avoid legal suits, they will take action. You will be surprised at how friendly some are. In conclusion, strive to become a partner with your landlord in ensuring a mold-free house.