Mold removal is your responsibility or your landlord’s depending on the cause of mold growth in the apartment. Some states, such as California, have mold laws that regulate indoor air quality and mold and require landlords to provide a written disclosure of current and previous mold problems that they are aware of. These laws don’t impose a special liability on the landlord for mold removal though. Here’s how to know where the responsibility lies when you discover mold:
Violation of Building Codes
The landlord is responsible for mold removal if he is in violation of building codes that can reasonably lead to mold development. Some examples include:
- Poor ventilation in the bathrooms
- Inadequate cleaning and drying of carpets after apartment flooding
- Improper clean-up after a fire
When dealing with your landlord, it’s important to put as much as you can about the mold problem in writing. Refer to any of these code violations or other violations in writing that you suspect is the cause of mold. Ask your landlord to make a “repair” by removing the mold. Failure to do so could result in his liability for charges that you spend to clean it up, and for any mold-related illness that you suffer.
When you enter into an lease agreement, your landlord makes a promise to keep the apartment habitable. To fulfill that promise, the landlord has a duty to make reasonable repairs. When he doesn’t, it can lead to mold growth, which can make the apartment inhabitable. Failure to fix leaks is a problem sometimes, which leads to mold. Your landlord at that point is responsible for mold removal if he did not fix the leaks per your written request, and in a timely manner. Some examples of leaks that cause mold problems include:
- Leaky roof
- Plumbing leaks, especially in pipes behind the walls
- Window leaks
Your responsibility as a tenant is to make the need for repairs known to the landlord. Make an initial verbal request, but if the landlord doesn’t respond, then you have to follow up with letters. As long as the mold problem is related to the leaks that were not repaired, it’s your landlord’s responsibility to remove the mold.
You are responsible as a tenant for mold removal if you don’t keep your apartment clean and sanitary. For example, if your tub overflows and you don’t rent the equipment necessary to dry out the carpets or hire a professional to do it, you’ll have to remove any mold that grows as a result. Tenants also engage in other acts that lead to mold growth, such as not “airing out” the apartment often. The landlord can use your security deposit to pay for mold removal, and if that’s not sufficient, bring legal action against you to collect more money if you don’t pay for it willingly.
It’s important to deal with mold removal as soon as you discover mold. The longer the wait, the harder it is to remove it.