Mold Disclosure Law and Requirements for Landlords in California
Imagine walking into your new condo and finding mold on the walls. Heartbreaking, isn’t it?
The mere mention of mold can strike terror in the hearts of tenants and landlords alike. Although mold is usually associated with humid climates, no building is entirely immune to a mold outbreak.
There is a simple reason for this. Mold can start to grow on damp areas within 24-48 hours. Perhaps more alarmingly, mold spores can become airborne and spread at a rapid rate. Consequently, even a single, unattended spill may lead to a full-blown infestation within a few days.
As a homeowner in California, the last thing you want is to find mold around your property. Expensive cleanup bills aside, a mold infestation may also put your family’s health at risk.
Due to the hazardous nature of mold, landlords in California have certain legal obligations when it comes to mold growth in their property, known as California mold disclosure laws. Let’s see what they are.
1. California’s State Laws About Mold Disclosure
Landlords are tasked with maintaining safe living conditions for their tenants, thanks to an implied warranty of habitability in every residential lease. Since mold breaches this warranty, it must be remediated without delay.
Besides, as per the Toxic Mold Protection Act of 2001 (California Health and Safety Code §§ 26100 –26156), all landlords must provide tenants with a mold disclosure before the lease is signed.
Under this law, the mold disclosure requirement applies when:
- There is an excess of mold in the unit
- The mold exceeds permissible limits
- The mold poses a health threat to the tenant
In this regard, remember that a verbal heads-up is not enough: your landlord must put all information in writing. Additionally, if there is no physical evidence of mold, but your landlord has sufficient reason to believe it is there, you are still entitled to a mold disclosure.
In 2016, California became the first state to include mold in its State Housing Law. This legislation deemed that visible mold is a health and safety concern, and it is enforceable as substandard housing.
2. How Long Do Landlords Have to Fix a Mold Problem
Not only are landlords required to rid their units of mold, but they must also resolve the underlying issue at fault. For example, if the mold was caused by leaky plumbing, the landlord should clean up the mold and fix the leak.
According to the California Code, once you notify your landlord of a mold problem, they have 30 days to remediate the issue.
Ideally, your landlord should hire a professional mold inspection expert to isolate mold patches around your home. Once this is done, it is up to a remediation specialist to step in and remove the mold effectively.
3. Steps to Take if a Landlord Refuses to Remove Mold
In case your landlord fails to take any action after you report a dangerous mold outbreak, you have the legal right to:
- Stop paying rent until the remediation is complete
- Pack up and leave
- Charge your landlord to pay for alternative living expenses
- Use a month’s rent to hire a mold inspector and remediator
- Complain to appropriate authorities
- Sue your landlord for damages
California mold disclosure laws are designed to protect tenants from the dangers of mold. If your landlord does not comply, then you can take legal action against them.
4. Your Responsibilities as a Tenant
Did you know that if a landlord suspects a departing tenant of causing a mold outbreak, they can deduct the mold remediation costs from the tenant’s security deposit?
While your landlord is liable for mold-related damages, you should also do your best to maintain a clean, damp-free home. Here’s how.
- Never allow sinks, toilets, and other appliances to overflow
- Keep windows closed to ward off rainwater
- Use exhaust fans to ventilate your home
- Install a dehumidifier for exceptionally humid climate
Also, you must note that mold that accumulates through daily household wear and tear is not your landlord’s responsibility. For example, if you spot mold patches growing in your sink, your landlord will most likely not fix it.
The Bottom Line
Hopefully, this post has given you a little more insight into California’s mold disclosure law and requirements. Because of the dangerous nature of mold, every landlord must take stock of their rental units and test for mold before leasing them to potential tenants.
For more information on mold disclosure, reach out to the team at GP Inspect. Our goal is to detect environmental hazards that can directly affect the health and welfare of your family. From mold inspections to environmental testing, we do it all to ensure your safety.