Living in an apartment or rental home with mold can pose a serious health risk, particularly for young children. This guide aims to help you identify mold-related issues in your apartment, educate you about your rights as a tenant, and provide tips to keep yourself and your family safe.
If your apartment has mold, you may experience a range of symptoms, from fatigue and nausea to asthma, rashes, and even damage to your internal organs. What is truly terrifying is that these symptoms are often similar to those of other conditions, making it challenging to pinpoint the root cause without identifying and examining the mold infestation itself.
If Your Apartment Has Mold, Here’s What You Should Do
Are You Wondering if Mold in Your Apartment is Dangerous?
Understanding Mold in Apartments and the Rights of Tenants
In Conclusion: Dealing with Mold in Your Apartment
What To Do if Your Apartment Has Mold
- Recognize the Smell
- Learn How to Identify Mold
- Search Your Apartment for Hidden Mold Growth
- Contact Your Landlord
- Wait For Your Landlord to Remove the Mold
- As a Last Resort, Take Legal Action
1. Recognize the Smell
If you come across mold in your apartment, the initial step is to identify the odor and locate all the areas where the mold is growing. Mold has a pungent and persistent smell that is musty. It is advisable to check other parts of your apartment to ensure that there is no additional mold growth if you find mold in one area, and a peculiar smell can serve as a warning sign of mold.
2. Learn How to Identify Mold
As soon as you detect the distinct odor, it’s crucial to begin your search for potential mold growth areas. Mold can take on different colors such as black, white, green, gray, shiny, or dusty, and some of them are more noticeable than others. While some mold varieties can be easily spotted, others tend to lurk around baseboards, between walls, and in the corners of your attic or basement. It’s important to be able to identify what mold looks like. In addition to physical signs such as spotting the mold itself, bubbling paint, discolored paint, and wood, or drywall damage can also indicate the presence of mold.
3. Search Your Apartment for Hidden Mold Growth
When paint, cardboard, walls, and other damp infrastructure are exposed to water, they become ideal breeding grounds for mold. As a result, an apartment that has been affected by a flood or other water damage is highly susceptible to being infested with various types of mold.
Apartments in states like California and Florida, which have naturally humid climates, are particularly susceptible to mold infestations, even without any water damage. It is crucial for landlords in these states to be aware of this and have a plan in place to tackle possible infestations before they pose a threat to their tenants’ health.
4. Contact Your Landlord
Once you spot mold in your apartment, the next step should be to get in touch with your landlord. As per the rental agreement, the landlord is obligated to provide a safe and comfortable living space for their tenants. It is their responsibility to handle the mold removal in your apartment. In case the landlord neglects to address a leak, resulting in mold infestation, they could be held accountable for any medical costs if a lawsuit is filed against them.
5. Wait For Your Landlord to Remove the Mold
If you have discovered mold in your apartment and informed your landlord about it, you can rest assured that your landlord will take the necessary steps to fix the issue and remove the mold. However, you may be wondering how long it will take for the mold problem to be resolved. The timeline for resolving a mold infestation depends on the severity of the problem and any relevant state or city safety codes. It’s important to note that there is no definitive timeline for landlords to address mold issues in most states.
6. As a Last Resort, Take Legal Action
If you’re living in an apartment with mold and your landlord is not taking any action to get rid of it, you should think about taking legal action. In most states, there are warranty of habitability laws that protect tenants’ rights to live in a rental property that is free from any risks to their health or well-being. Since mold can cause serious health problems, your landlord may be held liable if they are responsible for causing it or have failed to address the issue.
Mold in Apartment Tenants’ Rights
As a tenant, discovering mold in your apartment can leave you wondering who is responsible and what actions you can take, especially if it has caused health issues. While mold in apartments is a concern for tenant rights, there may be building codes in your local area that determine responsibility. Thankfully, tenants are generally protected by the warranty of habitability, which ensures that they have a secure living space. However, it is important to note that there are typically no specific regulations in place regarding acceptable levels of mold.
1. Landlords Must Provide Tenants With a Safe and Mold-Free Apartment
Landlords are generally obligated to remedy mold issues in your apartment under state tenants’ rights laws. In the event that the mold has caused health problems, the landlord may be held liable, particularly if they could have prevented it or were responsible for its occurrence. Several law firms have successfully obtained multimillion-dollar settlements against landlords who were negligent in preventing black mold in apartments and addressing pre-existing mold problems.
2. If You Caused the Mold Problem, You May Be Liable
In the event that the tenant’s own living conditions resulted in the growth of mold, they may not be successful in their case. It is important to note that certain lease agreements state that abandoning the premises due to the presence of black mold constitutes a breach of contract. However, landlords who attempt to enforce such clauses for financial compensation are often not upheld by the court system. This is because courts typically prioritize public policy over negligent maintenance in rental properties.
3. How Lond Does Your Landlord Have to Fix Mold?
Depending on your state’s laws and regulations, your landlord is typically given between 7 to 30 days to address any mold issues in your apartment. This time frame begins as soon as you notify your landlord of the problem, even if they haven’t inspected it yet. If your landlord fails to fix the mold issue within the given time frame, you have the right to withhold rent payments.
Is Mold in Your Apartment Dangerous?
Mold in your apartment can pose a serious threat to your health. The health risks vary depending on the individual affected by it. People with asthma, especially children and adults, are particularly susceptible to the harmful effects of mold. It can cause a range of physical symptoms such as respiratory problems, sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, and more. Therefore, it is essential to address mold issues in your apartment as soon as possible to ensure a healthy living environment.
If you have been exposed to harmful mold, such as black mold in your apartment, you should be aware of the potential health risks and keep an eye out for any symptoms. Itchiness, rashes, and difficulty breathing that subside when you leave your apartment are all telltale signs of a mold infestation that should not be ignored.
To prevent mold growth in your apartment, the most effective strategy is to choose a well-maintained unit that is safeguarded against mold. Nevertheless, taking measures to manage moisture can significantly reduce the risk of mold, even if you are responsible for your own apartment maintenance. It is important to address any standing moisture and promptly clean up spills to avoid seepage into carpets and floorboards. By implementing these simple steps, you can minimize the likelihood of mold growth in your apartment.
It’s important to realize that not all molds pose a threat to your health. For example, the mold that grows on bathroom tiles is harmless and can be easily removed with a good cleaning. Being able to distinguish between different types of molds can help you decide what steps to take. As a general rule, if the mold has a strong odor, it’s likely the dangerous kind.
Read More: Asbestos Ceiling Tiles Guide (2023)