You’ve found the perfect apartment, signed a lease, and moved in. You’re enjoying your new home, when you make a disturbing discovery: mold. As a renter, it’s not your responsibility to arrange for remediation. But what if your landlord fails to take action? This environmental issue can very quickly become a legal issue.
If that’s the case, it’s always best to consult an attorney. But here are some things to keep in mind as you work through the problem.
A Hit to Your Health
While there is debate in medical circles about what types of medical issues can be caused by exposure to mold, there is general agreement that it can have a negative impact on your health. Be aware.
State Your Case
Laws regarding a tenant’s rights and a landlord’s responsibilities when it comes to mold vary from state to state or even city to city. A good place to get information on how your state handles this type of issue is its department of environmental protection. You can find that organization through the federal EPA website (www.epa.gov).
Laws on Livability
If your state doesn’t have laws addressing mold issues, your landlord may still be responsible for remedying the situation due to the requirement in nearly every state to provide “habitable housing.” This includes fixing leaking pipes, roofs, and windows, and correcting poor ventilation — issues that are often the cause of a mold problem.
A Second Opinion
Some landlords include verbiage in their leases that they claim limits or eliminates their liability when it comes to mold. In some cases, however, courts have disagreed. Consult a lawyer if you have questions about your lease.
In the same way that landlords generally have an obligation to make a rental property habitable, you as a renter have an obligation to refrain from practices that are likely to create problems. So if, for example, you insist on intentionally maintaining an excessively high humidity level in your space, the liability picture may change.
To Break, or Not to Break…
You may believe that your landlord’s unwillingness to correct a mold problem gives you the right to break your lease. And depending on the laws in your area, you may be correct. But, it’s not a given. If you choose to take that approach, be prepared to defend yourself in court if your landlord sues. The same goes for withholding rent.
Cooperation Beats Litigation
Ultimately, both landlord and tenant win when they work together to solve a mold problem. If both parties enter into the dialog in the spirit of conversation as opposed to confrontation, there is a much better chance that everyone’s rights will be respected and the issue will be resolved quickly.
At Certified Mold Inspections our #1 priority is making sure that you and your family are safe from the harmful effects of mold, whether you are renting or own a home. If you think you may have a mold issue and are in need of testing and remediation schedule your appointment today!