Mold & Tenants Rights

Written by anne kemp
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Mold & Tenants Rights
Mold in your home could be making you sick. (mould on petrified wood image by MAXFX from Fotolia.com)

Tenants have rights when it comes to the accumulation of moisture and water inside your home, since these are the conditions conducive to mould growth. Indoor mould spores can be toxic and cause a variety of health problems including sneezing, runny nose and eye irritation. There are health and safety codes in place to protect tenants in case mould is an issue in your apartment or rented home.

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Exposure to Mold

Mold spores begin growing indoors when the spores find a place to breed that is wet. Mold spores are difficult to get rid of, floating in the air and settling into the dust in your home. Exposure to mould can cause allergic reactions including irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, skin and lungs.

Tenant Rights

If your landlord does not want to fix your mould issue, contact your local health department and inquire about local laws dealing with mould. Some cities, like New York City and San Francisco, have developed guidelines and adopted laws in conjunction with their health departments to protect the tenant. States like Maryland, California, New Jersey, Indiana and Texas have passed air quality regulations addressing indoor mould issues.

Ask about mould, water leaks or previous damage caused by water before you sign your lease. The landlord is required by law to disclose this information, and answer any questions truthfully, if asked about a specific issue.

What to Do

Schedule a toxicity specialist to come to your home at the first sign of mould and he can test for the levels of mould growth in your home. Tenants are required to show proof to their landlord that mould is present in the home. Document all communication, verbal or written, with any specialists and your landlord. Follow up all conversations with your landlord by sending him documents via certified letter or e-mail, keeping a paper trail for your records as a safeguard.

Look at your lease to see if mould or environmental issues are covered by the landlord or managing company. Landlords do not want to lose rent or to deal with legal issues. By keeping an eye on the property's plumbing, watching the roof and windows for leaks, and communicating with your landlord as soon as a problem arises, you can nip mould issues in the bud.

You can speak to your landlord and get permission to pay for the repair yourself, present him with the receipts and have the total deducted from your rent.

Landlord Responsibility

Your landlord is required to work with you to solve the mould problem in your home. Lease violation can occur if your landlord refuses to take any responsibility for the mould. If he is not willing to help alleviate the situation, you may have just cause for legal action. This is called breach of contract. For example, under California's Civil Code 1942, you can move without giving 30 days' notice if there is a health issue in your home that your landlord is neglecting. Mold causes health issues, resulting in doctor's bills and can ruin your personal belongings if left untreated.

Summary

Providing tenants with safe and habitable living quarters is a function of your landlord. The presence of mould in the home or apartment you rent can lead to chronic illness. Practicing good housekeeping and partnering with your landlord to fix any issues that could cause mould will help with any future mould issues in your home. Addressing and controlling the situation of moisture and the growth of mould in your home is imperative.

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