Are Tenants Responsible For Mold? (or Landlords)


Do you ever wonder what’s the reason behind your constant coughing, sneezing, and eye itching? Could it be a cold that’s been going around lately? Or maybe the standard seasonal allergies? While these reasons are unpleasant in their own ways, they can’t be compared to a third and much worse reason: mold. Could mold actually be the cause of your symptoms? 

Mold presence in your apartment can cause serious health problems if not properly handled. Needless to say, you should take action as soon as you notice the presence of mold in your home. However, if you are currently live in a rental home, things might not be so straightforward. As in any other good ol’ tenant-landlord relationship, issues may arise. No one wants to take the blame for the mold, and in the meanwhile, the mold keeps on growing. Tenants end up hurting the most in such cases, as they are living in a dangerous environment and don’t know what to do about it. 

Are tenants responsible for mold? In one way or another, mold in rentals is actually a joint problem where both tenants and landlords have a responsibility and duty to prevent. When it comes to fixing the issue, it all depends on the root cause of mold growth. If the mold is caused by water leakage, landlords are considered responsible for it. On the other hand, if the mold is caused by accumulated daily moisture, tenants might be held responsible.

Most misunderstandings regarding mold growth responsibility happen simply because landlords and tenants don’t understand the fact that there are different root causes of mold and damp. And just to complicate it a little more, without the help of a professional to identify and fix the problem, it can be somehow difficult to find the right solution.

Mold Causes & Responsibilities

From a legal point of view, if the inspection suggests that the mold is caused by rising damp due to water leakage, it means that the landlord is responsible for fixing the problem because the property’s structure is the root cause. Often, where there are arguments between tenants and landlords, it’s when the dampness occurs due to condensation resulting from the lifestyle of the tenant. For instance, each time you cook, boil a kettle, you hang laundry inside or take a shower you create a lot of moisture. Moreover, the more individuals are in the apartment, the more the production of moisture. And if this generated moisture can’t escape (maybe due to poor ventilation in a well-insulated house), the result is condensation formation that can quickly lead to moisture and mold growth. It might be difficult to figure out who is responsible for fixing a damp problem. Why? If tenants cause excessive damp, some landlords might hold them responsible and attempt to make them change their lifestyle. 

Some simple ways to control condensation are to always open windows, performing outside dry washing as well as making sure your apartment is evenly heated. In reality, the tenant can minimize condensation by adjusting their lifestyle, but it might be impossible for every tenant to do so, especially in the case of well-insulated homes. This means that it’s great for homeowners to invest in enhancing good ventilation to eliminate condensation and prevent damage of the property structure that might lower its value.

Do Laws Regarding Mold and Rental Environment Safety Exist?

The landlord’s liability and responsibility for solving the mold issue might vary depending on the state. The federal government doesn’t have set standards for this environmental and health risk concern. However, several states and some municipalities have adopted their own particular guidelines. Be sure to refer to state and local records to know whether your local government statutes concerning mold do exist. 

Recently a great number of tenants have filed numerous cases suing their respective landlords for damages as well as health issues caused by “toxic mold” presence in their apartments. Although renters have not usually won such cases, legal expenses and issues can cause headaches in any case – and responsible homeowners should make sure their properties are not only safe but also comfortable for every resident. Despite living in an area where there are no regulations on the issue of mold in rental housing, landlords should still ensure proper maintenance as well as repairs if they wish to keep good tenants.  

What to Do If You Find Mold In Your Rental

First thing first, you should notify the landlord upon discovering any mold growth in your apartment! Almost every state expects landlords to quickly clean up as well as eradicate mold growth ASAP once notified. However, sometimes the growth of mold happens in areas where it’s difficult to see. The moisture root causes can be excessive humidity or additional rainfall in the spring or autumn. It can also be a leaky pipe between the walls, which is noticeable only when the mold flourishes. Besides, faulty roof venting, roof shingles, and downpipes can contribute to the ingress of water into the interior of the house. Make sure you inform your landlord so he can fix any possible structural issues.

It is also very important that you develop a regular cleaning routine. Normally, the mold presence in more damp areas such as bathrooms is quite common because mold basically grows in humid and dark spaces. If the tenants don’t adhere to a few basic steps to mold-prevention, the fungus can easily grow on tiles, walls, bathtubs, and other places. 

Essentially, a tenant should move into a rental unit that is completely mold-free. Thereafter the tenant will be responsible for enhancing a mold-free environment. So if he or she doesn’t offer proper bathroom ventilation during and after bathing chances are mold will grow everywhere more quickly. Also, the lack of regular cleaning can lead to the growth of mold. Make sure to follow these steps in order to keep your home mold-free.

The main issues happen due to a lack of communication. Occasionally, most tenants fail to report issues with pipes leakage or other moisture problems to their landlords. However, the landlord can charge a tenant if he or she fails to give notice upon the mold manifestation. 

On the other hand, if you do inform your landlord and he or she fails to get rid of it after notification and results to you experiencing ill health, you can file a case to ask the landlord for compensation. Make sure you retain detailed documents of your health problems as well as communications with the landlord for your case support. 

Conclusion

As a tenant, what’s your responsibility when it comes to dealing with mold? Mold manifests itself everywhere, but it doesn’t pose danger until given a growing environment. Ensure that your apartment has a good system of ventilation. If you are a landlord be sure to educate all your tenants about the surefire measures of mold prevention. Give them tips on how they can clean vulnerable places like bathrooms daily. 

As a tenant, you should always inform your landlord immediately if you come along leaks or moisture buildup. As a landlord, you should quickly take care of the issue to prevent the growth of mold. Always remember that if a tenant reports a mold problem and you (landlord) don’t act, it would cause legal troubles and also potentially drastic health issues.

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