Allergies, rashes, and fatigue are among the health problems that toxic mold causes. Toxic mold is common where humidity is a problem. If you believe that there is harmful mold on your property, you should notify an expert to determine if the mold is actually toxic.
Federal, State, and Local Toxic Mold Laws
Laws on mold differ from state to state and federal laws don’t set out specific guidelines on mold. Mold regulations have been developed in states like Texas, California, Maryland, New Jersey, and Indiana. For example, under California’s "Toxic Mold Protection Act of 2001," the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) sets mold regulations in the state. Under California law:
- Landlords must disclose even suspected mold
- DHCS may develop mold abatement standards
- DHCS may set specific limits on indoor mold
Local statutes and building codes may also be a source of law on mold. For example, since mold is considered a legal nuisance in San Francisco, tenants may sue their landlords under nuisance laws.
Your Landlord’s Liability Under the Implied Warranty of Habitability
Even if a state lacks mold laws, under the "implied warranty of habitability" a landlord may still be liable for indoor mold if he fails to maintain, repair, and keep the property in a habitable condition. A landlord cannot evade liability simply by including a waiver in the lease agreement.
What Other Parties May be Liable for Toxic Mold?
In addition to landlords, other parties may be liable for indoor mold, including:
- Prior owners who failed to make mold disclosures to the home buyer
- Suppliers and makers of building materials infested with mold
- Contractors whose defective work resulted in mold infestation
- Insurance policies for a violation of the "covenant of good faith and fair dealing"
What Damages Can I Recover from Toxic Mold Litigation?
Mold litigation recoverable damages include such items as:
- Inspection and repair costs
- Medical expenses
- Emotional distress
- Related expenses
Toxic Mold Litigation: Building a Potential Toxic Mold Case
Here are several things you may need to do to develop a successful toxic mold case:
- Take photographs of toxic mold, put related issues in written notes, acquire medical records.
- You may need to invite a mold specialist, a city inspector, or other professional to assess the presence of mold and document the problem.
- Try negotiating with responsible parties – i.e., the landlord, insurance companies, etc – and, document your steps in writing.
- If unresolved, consider finding a qualified attorney to file your case as soon as possible.
- The case will often involve a "battle of experts." A plaintiff’s expert will argue that the mold at issue generally causes injuries and that it in fact did cause such injuries in this case.
Seeking an Attorney’s Advice
If you suspect the presence of mold in your home or apartment, you may need to reach out to a qualified attorney. If health effects are present, you may need the expertise of a personal injury attorney. Otherwise, you may consider an attorney specializing in tenant-landlord issues.
An attorney can help you negotiate with responsible parties, file and represent your rights in a lawsuit, and assess the extent of recoverable damages.