Is a landlord responsible for mold in a rental house?

Written by michael wolfe
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Is a landlord responsible for mold in a rental house?
Landlords are responsible for mould. (mould on petrified wood image by MAXFX from Fotolia.com)

Mold, a form of fungi, has been found to be the cause of a number of health problems, including rashes and respiratory problems, and is considered a potential environmental hazard when it is found in an indoor space frequented by humans. In a rental home, it is generally the responsibility of the landlord to remove any mould caused by deficiencies in the structure.

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Molds come in many forms and grow in nearly any area in which water is present. If almost any part of a rental house remains wet for a sufficiently long period of time, mould can grow. Although certain types of mould are known to cause health problems, most building codes are vague regarding the responsibility of the landlord when mould is present in a rental property. No federal statute governs the landlord's responsibility when mould is present, meaning that regulations vary according to local laws.

State Laws

According to the legal reference website Nolo.com, only five states--California, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey and Texas--have laws specifically dealing with mould in a rental property. These laws attempt to outline landlord responsibilities, such as through clearly outlining when the landlord must remove mould from a residence, as well as when a landlord must disclose the presence of mould to a current or prospective tenant.

City Laws

In the absence or in addition to state laws regarding the presence of mould in rental properties, a number of cities have developed local ordinances to address the problem. For example, in New York City, landlords must keep their apartments in compliance with guidelines issued by the Department of Health for the presence of mould in indoor spaces.

Other Laws

Even in areas without laws that deal specifically with mould, many states have laws that prevent the rental of properties to tenants that present a known hazard to their heath or that are poorly maintained. For example, in Minnesota, landlords are responsible for providing a rental property that is fit for human habitation and is in reasonable repair. If a state deems mould to be a health hazard, a landlord may be responsible for removing it.

Considerations

For the landlord to be at fault for the presence of mould, the mould must be caused by a defect in the rental structure that led to the formation of mould. For example, mould that forms on old food would not be the landlord's responsibility, but the tenants. However, if the mould is caused by a leaky pipe, it is the landlord's responsibility. According to Nolo.com, all states except Colorado and Arkansas require landlords to keep the rental property in good repair, including the property's plumbing.

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