Mold & tenant rights
Excessive moisture in a house or apartment over a long period of time may result in a mould infestation.
Left unresolved, a mould infestation can cause health problems for the occupants of the property.
A tenant has certain rights in relationship to the landlord when a mould infestation occurs. These rights are established both by the laws in force in every state in the country and court decisions addressing landlord and tenant issues.
Landlord and tenant laws as well as statutes relating deceptive trade practices require a landlord to disclose any known defects in property that have the potential of influencing a person's decision to enter into a lease agreement with that property owner. Included within such disclosures is the right of a tenant to be advised of the presence of current mould infestations.
The laws vary significantly from state to state about whether a tenant has the right to information about prior mould infestations at the property that were resolved.
In many states courts have ruled that a landlord does not have to volunteer this information in the first instance. However, if a tenant specifically inquires about prior mould infestations, the landlord must provide accurate information.
If mould infestation occurs after a tenant takes possession of property, the landlord is required to make a diligent effort to remedy the problem.
This obligation exists even if the mould infestation was the fault of the tenant. If it is the fault of the tenant, the landlord will undertake remedying the situation, but the tenant can be held responsible for the costs associated with resolving the mould problem.
Notice to Landlord
In order for a tenant to fully protect her rights in regard to eliminating mould infestation, the tenant must provide notice of the problem. Appropriate notice is given either to the property owner or to the individual typically responsible for collecting rent.
As part of the process of notifying the landlord of a mould infestation and protecting a tenant's rights, the renter needs to fully document the infestation. As part of this process, the tenant is wise to photograph the mould infestation itself and document the date that the problem was noticed.
If the landlord fails to take action to remedy the mould situation, the tenant has the right to end the lease agreement based upon what is known as a material breach by the landlord.
A tenant may also have the right to take further legal action against the landlord for other losses incurred because of the mould infestation. Because mould causes health related problems for some individuals, these damages can include medical expenses incurred as the result of dealing with these types of issues.