Is a Landlord Responsible for Mold in a Rental House?

For a landlord, many issues can arise with the tenant-occupied rental home. In humid climates, mold is a particularly common problem. Although not all mold is bad, high quantities can pose health hazards. Problems arising from mold in a dwelling include allergic reactions, asthma episodes, respiratory complications, sinus congestion and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat. Mold removal is not always the landlord's responsibility. In some cases, the tenant is responsible.

State Laws

As of publication, there are no federal laws regarding responsibility for mold exposure and removal in rental homes. Most states don't address mold responsibility. California, Texas, New Jersey, Indiana and Maryland have laws regarding guidelines and regulations for mold. For instance, the Texas Property Code requires landlords to remove mold if it affects the physical health or safety of the tenant. In Washington, there are no laws addressing liability, but landlords must notify tenants about the health hazards associated with exposure to mold and how to control mold growth in the home. A landlord can post the information in a visible location at the dwelling.

Local Laws

A few cities and counties have ordinances related to mold. In New York City, landlords must follow the Department of Health guidelines for indoor air quality. In San Francisco, mold is a legal nuisance. It falls into the same category as an infestation of vermin. Tenants and local health inspectors have the right to sue landlords who violate private and public nuisance laws. In Clermont County, Ohio, landlords are typically responsible for removing black mold over 10 square feet in area. If the mold is less than 10 square feet in area, the tenant is responsible.

Landlord's Responsibility

Even if a state or city doesn't have laws specifically pertaining to mold, the landlord is responsible for keeping a home habitable. If a landlord fails to fulfill this duty, problems might arise that lead to mold growth. Landlords are obligated to make reasonable repairs once made aware. If the necessary repairs aren't made, it can lead to mold growth. Failing to fix a leaky pipe can result in mold growth, making the home uninhabitable. If mold is present in the home, it's important to remove it fast. Procrastinating can lead to hazards that might even become life-threatening.

Tenant's Responsibility

A tenant has certain responsibilities when renting a home, including keeping the home clean and sanitary. If the mold growth is due to the tenant's negligence, liability shifts. When a tenant causes the damage that leads to mold growth, the tenant is responsible. The negligent behavior doesn't just apply to leaks. Keeping the home tightly shut can result in high humidity, leading to mold growth. A landlord could choose to remove the mold but hold the tenant financially liable for the mold removal and damage.

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