Mold growth can cause a variety of problems. It can cause structural damage to buildings, as well as health problems to people who are exposed to it, from respiratory problems to allergic reactions and even infections.
So, when you find signs of mold in your unit, you must first report it immediately. But as you pick up the phone or try to catch your landlord before he leaves, you’re probably thinking, “Can my landlord blame me for mold?”
In most cases, the answer to whether your landlord can blame you for mold hinges on who caused the mold (or who is responsible for maintaining and fixing the underlying cause of the mold).
For example, if mold arises due to a leaky roof or flooding from a busted pipe, then those are things that the landlord is generally responsible for fixing promptly, so mold arising from that should be handled by the landlord.
On the other hand, if you have caused the mold due to your negligence or acts (or omissions), such as not properly removing mildew that builds up through your use of the unit, the landlord may hold you responsible for the mold.
In this post, we’ll talk more about the issue of mold, what causes it, and who is responsible for mold removal in a rental unit.
The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional before making any decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.
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Can My Landlord Blame Me for Mold?
First, it’s important to check your lease agreement to see who is responsible for maintaining the unit and if there are any specific provisions regarding mold.
If your lease is silent on the issue, or if you don’t have a lease, then it’s likely that your state’s laws will come into play.
In many cases, landlords are required by law to take reasonable steps to prevent mold growth in their rentals and to promptly address any mold growth that does occur.
However, there are some circumstances in which a landlord may not be liable for mold growth in a rental. If a tenant, for example, fails to properly ventilate their bathroom or repeatedly floods their basement, the landlord would have a pretty good case.
Several factors can contribute to mold growth, and landlords should be aware of these before placing blame on tenants.
What Causes Mold?
Mold needs three things to grow: moisture, a food source, and darkness. To prevent mold from growing, watch out for the following conditions in your home.
Mold requires a high level of humidity for the spores to germinate, ideally at a temperature between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity level of 70% and higher.
This can happen when there’s poor ventilation, inadequate heating or cooling, or a lack of dehumidification.
This is why the most common places for mold to grow are in damp areas like basements, bathrooms, and kitchens.
Even the smallest leaks can be the biggest culprits. Over time, the water from leaks seeps through cracks in walls and ceilings, providing the moisture mold needs to grow.
An enclosed, cluttered environment is a favorite among pests and mold alike. It’s dark, moist, and usually made up of organic materials like paper or wood that mold can use as a food source.
You may not be able to eliminate all these factors, but knowing what to look for will help. If there’s a leaky pipe or roof or condensation spots forming, let your landlord know right away so they can make repairs.
Who Is Responsible for Getting Rid of the Mold?
Don’t worry; it’s not a case of finders, keepers.
As we mentioned, the analysis almost always turns on who is responsible for causing the mold or who is responsible for fixing the underlying case of the mold.
It many cases, it’s the responsibility of the landlord to take care of mold removal because serious mold growth usually comes from structural factors that are out of the tenant’s control.
Related Reading: If you are faced with a serious mold situation, you may be wondering if you need to be relocated out while it’s getting fixed. Here an article I wrote on the topic that provides guidance on when topic. Or if you just want to break the lease due to mold, here’s an article that tackles how (and when) you can do so.
How do I Actually Get Rid of Mold in My Rental?
Their first step would be to identify the source of the mold and fix the problem from there.
Once the source is fixed, the mold can be removed with a variety of methods, including using a bleach solution, scrubbing with soap and water, or (in very serious cases) hiring a mold removal professional.
The Bottom Line
Mold can cause serious health problems, and it can also be very costly to remediate. However, as a renter, with any home problem comes certain anxieties, leading you to ask questions like, can my landlord blame me for mold?
While it is true that tenants can be held responsible for mold growth in some cases, it’s mainly your landlord’s job to deal with and remove mold.
Of course, these circumstances are not always clear-cut, but it’s always best to report the issue and take action earlier on.
First, try to talk to your landlord and see if you can reach a resolution. If that doesn’t work, you can always consult a lawyer or file a complaint with your local housing authority.
If you prefer to have a lawyer assist you, I would try JustAnswer. They boast access to thousands of highly-rated, verified real estate lawyers whom you can connect with via their unlimited chat service.
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