Mold around your home or in your home is an environmental hazard that can cause several health problems like rashes, chronic fatigue, nausea, cognitive losses, hemorrhaging, asthma, or other serious health risks.
Tenants can face severe health issues with mold exposure and this is the most controversial topic among the scientific medical communities but one thing is clear that mold for asthma patients or those having inhaling issues can worsen the situation especially when it grows on shower tiles due to humidity and moisture caused by steamy showers.
Unfortunately, there are not many laws for tenant relocation due to mold and even if the landlord has been alerted in the early stages of mold, there is nothing tenants can do. Still, there are few states which address this problem, and tenants and landlords both can take advantage of the laws as well.
As a rule of thumb, the tenants must be relocated when the mold makes the unit uninhabitable. In this case, the tenants can relocate due to mold at the expense of the landlord for a maximum of 30 days until the landlord remediate mold at no cost to the tenant. The tenant will be liable to pay the rent according to the rental agreement without breaking the lease.
In this article, we will be talking about possible scenarios of tenant relocation due to mold as well as some alternatives available for both the tenant and the landlord.
Note: We are not giving any legal advice here, this post is only for informational purposes. You must consult any legal professional to decide your situation.
When is Tenant Relocation Required Due to Mold
Tenant relocation becomes important when the mold starts to raise serious health concerns.
Some states and local governments are adopting rigorous requirements for mediating the rental units for mold and in some cases, there are relocation requirements applicable until the landlord remediates the mold.
Before you seek help from the law, you should start digging the mold remediation information in your lease agreement because mostly there are mentioned rules in the lease agreement about who will fix the mold and also the relocation steps in case of mold infestation.
If the lease agreement has conflict with the mold laws, you can seek help from state and local authorities.
Let’s see which states are having solid mold regulations and rules.
What is Mold
Mold is a type of microscopic fungi that grows in damp locations especially when the moisture or humidity level increases in the home or apartment for a long time and any organic material like food, wood, paper, or dust can start turning into the mold and it can be cured on earlier stages by reducing the humidity or moisture.
As mentioned earlier, exposure to toxic molds in the building or rental unit can cause serious health and safety issues.
Mold grows in different colors like black, white, gray, green, powdery, or shiny colors and it has different names like Stachybotrys, penicillium, aspergillus, paecilomyces, and fusarium.
Mold usually grows under floors, on walls, ceilings, or in less accessible or confined spaces like basements and attics.
It can also grow on water-soaked materials like paneling, paint, ceiling tiles, bathroom tiles, newspaper, and cardboard boxes. So, to control mold exposure, you can start by getting rid of the moisture like steam in the shower, cooking with closed windows, or keeping the apartment shut in rainy weather traps the moisture inside.
Humid climates are the biggest reason for the growth of mold, but the drier climates make the mold tough to grow or impossible.
Mold can pose serious health effects like coughing, runny nose, itchy eyes and skin, difficulty breathing, flu-like symptoms, respiratory dysfunction, nose bleeds, diarrhea, headaches, and in severe cases, the inhalation of mold spores can cause mycotoxins and other severe health issues.
As a tenant, you have some responsibilities as well to not let the mold come to life and this happens due to a lot of reasons like keeping the apartment shut all the time, cooking with closed windows, steamy showers, or improper cleanliness of the premises from indoor and outdoor.
New York Law
New York has a law that the rental unit must be habitable for human occupation and if it’s inhabitable, the landlord won’t be able to evict the tenant and will bear the cost of relocating the tenant until the remediation of the rental unit. And, the tenant must be paying rent regularly until they are shifted back into the rental unit where remediation is done.
According to New York Times, a couple found a leak in the apartment that turned into a black mold and after giving many alerts to the landlord they left the apartment and subleased a different apartment, filed legal action against the landlord and stopped paying rent.
To rectify this, the judget granted $31,040 as rent abatement to the tenants.
California is also one of the states that recognizes the mold growth problem as a serious health issue for tenants. According to the dwelling, there are certain rules like the substandard dwelling requires the owner to remediate in timely manner or the tenants will be applicable to terminate the lease and relocate somewhere else.
The relocation expenses are due on the landlord and similarly, tenants are also liable to pay regularly the monthly rent according to their lease agreement. But, if the landlord is failed to handle the mold problem, the tenants are liable to sue the landlord.
Tenants are temporarily displaced by the expenses covered by the landlord when there are
Severe mold issue is considered as health and safety violation.
The third State Virginia is another Jurisdiction that takes the mold problem seriousely and impose duties for both landlords and tenants.
Landlords are obliged to maintain the premises to make sure the mold never grows under any circumstance. And, if the tenant promptly responds about mold issues, the landlord is liable to take quick actions to remediate the mold problem and if relocation is necessary, the tenant can move on the selected yet comparable home or hotel room by the landloard at no expense to tenent and temporarily vacate the property for 30 days and after 30 days, the landlord must relocate the tenant back.
This way, both the tenant and the landlord can keep their side of the promise and no problem will occur.
Once the landlord has remediated the mold property, the tenant can come back.
Alternatives to Temporary Relocation
In case, you dont get relocated due to mold problem, there are number of ways you can try to self-help.
As there are large number of states that do not take this problem seriousely, so the tenants can hardly do anything about the landlord to remediate the mold issue.
So, there are two choices for the tenants, either remove the mold or get professionals to remove the mold.
Depending on the size of the location, the remediation procedure is decided; like the 10 squre feet size of mold is probably not that big of a size to hire a professional mold remediation company so you can do it yourself.
These are the steps to remove mold yourself
Fix leaks or things causing moisture to let the area dry completely.
Scrub the mold off from tiles, wall, ceiling, using Tilex ( Mold Remover ) and dry that place. The product that you are going to use must have fungicide and a mildewstat that controls the growth of mold and spores.
Remove the affected tiles or ceiling parts or even the carpet which has absorbed the mold.
After removing mold, throw away the clothes
Do not paint that place, it can cause mold again and pain will peel sooner or later.
For larger areas, hire a company and use the repair and decut method to deduce the costs of the maintenance from the next rent payment.
Check if the early Termination of the lease is an option
As a tenant, you can try to terminate the lease agreement if the mold situation arises.
Be cautios becuse if the mold is not making the place inhabitable, the termination can be reversed as well. Therefore, go through the laws before taking any action.
Finally, you can leave the unit without paying the rental payments under the lease and the landlord should be able to find a new tenant to mitigate the damages and then you will no longer be on the hook for your lease.
In other scenarios, a landloard can report any non-payment of rent to credit reporting agencies as well that can leave a negative impact on your credit card score and that’s ultimtely going to haunt you for your upcoming days when you will use the credit card for any payments.
So, keep in mind this is kind of a gamble, and it should be your last and final option and should be only used when the home is inhabitable or dangerousely unsafe.
There are many states having no specific mold laws but still a landlord is liable for mold problems when until the home is safe and livable again. When the landlord fails to fix a serious mold problem, the rent withholding occurs and both the tenants and landlord can trap themselves in a never-ending lawsuit for mold-releated health problems.
In a statae like Arkansad, the landlords are responsible for maintaining the house and it’s their obligation to maintain the rental property and to fix issues like leaking pipes, windows, roofs, and other mold related problems. If the landlords doesn’t seems to be responsive, you can surely convince a judge or jury for the actions of the landlord.
Sometimes, mold is caused by tenant behaviours like when the tenants keep apartment shut all the time and there is little to no ventilation that increases humidity in home. Similarly, the lack of necessary cleanliness can also cause such problems. Therefore, the tenants are required to don’t be negligible and practice good housekeeping to make sure they are not responsible for the damage of the property.
A tenant must go through the clauses of the lease about the mold growth to see if the landlord is going to be responsible for the maintenance of the property or not. Usually a smart landlord prevents to have such clases in the agreement but still the landlord itself is responsible for maintaining the structural integrity of the property, roof, plumbing and windows.
Relocation for tenants is not an easy thing before renting an apartment, home, or condo, make sure to do your due dilligence about the rights and obligations so in future you don’t face any toruble.