What Are My Tenant Rights if Mold is in My Apartment?

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What Are My Tenant Rights If Mold Is In My Apartment?

If you are dealing with mold in your apartment, it is important to understand your rights and options for resolving the issue.

Mold is an environmental hazard that can cause serious health problems if left untreated, especially for individuals who have an autoimmune disorder or weakened immune system. Not only that, but it only takes mold 24 to 48 hours to grow and spread. So, you must address any mold problems as soon as possible.

Yet, it can be challenging to know how to get your mold problem fixed as a tenant. After all, you are not the property owner and may not have control over maintenance or repairs.

You may feel that you are at the mercy of your landlord when dealing with mold. The good news is there are several things you can do to help protect yourself and get mold removed from your apartment. Here are some steps you can take if you suspect mold in your rental property:

1. Recognizing Mold in Your Apartment

The first step in addressing mold in your apartment or rental property is to recognize it. Mold can come in various colors, including black, white, green, or orange. It may appear as spots, clusters, or a powdery substance on walls, ceilings, floors, or other surfaces.

Notify Your Landlord About Mold Problems

Additionally, mold has a distinct musty odor that is often described as earthy or damp. If you notice any of these signs in your apartment, it is essential to take action. Letting mold go untreated can lead to further damage and potential health risks.

Common health effects associated with mold exposure include: 

  • Respiratory issues such as coughing, wheezing, or difficulty breathing
  • Allergic reactions like sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes
  • Skin irritation and rashes
  • Headaches and fatigue
  • Asthma attacks

In rare cases, mold exposure can also cause more severe health problems, such as lung infections or neurological issues. So, it is vital to address the issue promptly.

2. Tenant Rights Regarding Mold

As a tenant, it is essential to know your rights when it comes to mold growth in your rental unit. Most states have a legal doctrine called the “Implied Warranty of Habitability.” This warranty states that landlords must maintain their rentals in a livable condition. Therefore, your landlord may be legally obligated to resolve the issue.

Lawyer Explaining Implied Warranty Of Habitability

Earlier this year, several former tenants of a Newport Beach apartment complex sued the property owner for failing to address a severe mold infestation. The lawsuit claimed that the landlord was aware of the mold issue but did not take proper action, resulting in significant, lifelong health problems for the tenants.

Mold and water damage caused by negligence or inadequate maintenance are considered a breach of the landlord’s duty to provide safe and habitable housing. As a tenant, you have the right to request that your landlord address any mold issues promptly. If your landlord fails to do so, you may have grounds for legal action.

3. Health Concerns and Reporting Mold

Mold exposure can have adverse health effects, especially for those with pre-existing respiratory conditions or weak immune systems. While not all types of mold are harmful, it is best to address any mold issues promptly to prevent potential health risks.

Consult Your Lease Agreement

Consult Your Lease Agreement

If you suspect your rental property has mold, review your lease agreement for any specific procedures for reporting maintenance issues. Once you have consulted your lease agreement, you should notify your landlord of the mold problem. If your lease requires it, be sure to do so within the specified time period.

When you notify your landlord, always put it in writing. This way, you will have a record of the issue if your landlord refuses to take action. Include as many details as possible in your letter. For instance, describe where the mold growth is located, how long you believe it has been there, and any health problems you have experienced.

4. Documenting Mold Problems Effectively

It is crucial to document any mold problems effectively to protect your rights as a tenant. Take photos or videos of the affected areas, including any visible mold growth and water damage. If you have reported the issue in writing, keep a copy of your letter and any responses from your landlord.

Request Mold Inspection

If you have experienced health problems due to mold growth in your rental unit, be sure to keep detailed records of any medical treatment you have received. This can include doctor’s appointments, medications prescribed, and any other related expenses.

5. The Inspection and Testing Process

If your landlord refuses to take action after you have notified them of the mold problem, you may want to request a mold inspection. In many cases, landlords will not act until a formal inspection has confirmed the presence of mold.

Difference Buyer Mold Inspection

A trained inspector will be able to find any existing or potential sources of moisture in your building that could lead to mold growth. They will also be able to determine the extent of the mold problem and recommend remediation.

Once the mold inspector has completed the assessment, they will provide you with a detailed report of their findings. This may help you and your landlord determine a long-term solution to the mold contamination problem.

6. Renters Insurance and Mold Claims

While mold is typically not covered by renters’ insurance, some policies may include limited coverage for damages caused by a sudden and accidental water leak. If you have experienced mold growth due to such an event, document the damage and contact your insurance provider as soon as possible.

If you believe that your landlord’s negligence has resulted in the mold problem, you may also consider filing a claim against their insurance policy. However, this can be a complex and time-consuming process, so it is best to consult with a legal professional before taking any action.

7. Compensation and Rent Adjustments

Rent Adjustments

In some cases, you may be entitled to compensation for damages or rent adjustments due to a mold problem. This could include reimbursement for medical expenses, lost wages if you were unable to work due to health issues caused by mold, and even relocation costs if the rental property is deemed uninhabitable.

Keep detailed records of any expenses related to the mold issue and consult with a lawyer to understand your options for seeking compensation.

8. Consider Legal Action

If your landlord still refuses to address the mold problem, you may have no choice but to take legal action. You can typically file these types of lawsuits in small claims court. However, prior to making any decisions, we highly recommend consulting with an attorney to further explain possible options and potential outcomes. 

Be sure to bring sufficient evidence of the mold problem, such as photos or medical records. You should also be prepared to show that you notified your landlord and gave them a reasonable amount of time to act.

If you win your case, the court may order your landlord to pay for damages. This may include the cost of mold remediation, moving expenses, and any medical bills you have incurred.

Mold In Apartment Tenant Rights Infographic

The Bottom Line

If you are dealing with mold in your apartment, it is important to understand your rights and options for resolving the issue. By following the steps outlined above, you can help ensure that your apartment is safe and habitable for you and your family.

Need to Schedule a Mold Inspection?

If you need to schedule a mold inspection to prove the presence of mold in your rental, GP Inspect is here to help.

We have been offering comprehensive mold inspections and indoor air quality testing services in Southern California for over 22 years. Our team of experts will provide you with a thorough inspection and a detailed report of their findings. We can also provide you with proper mold removal and remediation recommendations that strictly follow industry standards of practice to help you get your apartment back to normal. 

If you would like to schedule a mold inspection or have any questions, contact us online or give us a call at (949) 239-3727.

First Published: May 9, 2022

Updated: April 2, 2024

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Joseph Gutierrez

Mr. Gutierrez is a highly certified Environmental Hygienist and Property Inspector. He is well known and respected for his knowledge of the industry, work ethics, and superb customer service.