Black mould is a hazardous contaminant. It causes illness and irritates upper respiratory conditions like asthma or chronic emphysema. When black mould is present in a rental, the tenant has rights, as does the landlord, depending on circumstances surrounding the origin of the mould infestation.
When black mould is present in a property, the burden of proof rests with the tenant regarding substantiation of the claim. Proof does not include simply calling the landlord and informing him of the issue. The tenant needs to call a home inspector or mould remediation company to test for mould and to test the air quality in the property for mould spores.
After the tenant receives the report, the tenant presents the information to landlord in addition to a letter of intent to move out or remain in the premises while the landlord makes the necessary corrections. If the mould infestation and spores are causing health issues for the tenant, the tenant is well within his rights to break the lease. However, no matter what the intent, it does not negate the tenant's responsibility to provide the landlord this information in writing.
Cleaning and Removal
The landlord has the right to contest the mould report and employ his own inspector or mould remediation company. However, that contest comes at the landlord's expense. If the inspector or mould remediation company finds mould in the property, and after you have notified the landlord of the mould problem via the tenant's report from a home inspector or mould remediation company, he has five days to clean and remove the mould problem. Mold removal comes at the expense of the landlord; it is not something he can charge the tenant to do.
The tenant of the property has the right to hire a company to clean and remove the mould problem at his own expense. He can deduct this charge and the cost of the initial mould report from his rent in coming months as long as he provides the landlord proper written notice he is doing so.
Origin of the Mold
State laws require landlords to provide a habitable and safe rental property, free from health hazards like black mould. However, if the landlord can prove that the tenant's negligence caused the mould, this changes the rules of engagement. The landlord has the right to inspect the cause of the mould infestation. If a home inspector or mould remediation agency determines that the infestation is as a result of damage or negligence on behalf of the tenant, and determines that the tenant did not inform the landlord of the infestation, the landlord is able to hold the tenant financially liable for mould cleanup and removal.