California has passed a new law that requires landlords to give written disclosure to prospective tenants when the landlord knows, or has reason to believe, that mold is present in the building that either exceeds the permissible exposure limits allowed or poses a health threat. The landlord has this responsibility when the mold is visible, invisible, or hidden.
Does My Landlord Have a Duty to Test for Mold in the Building?
In California landlords are not required to conduct tests to determine whether the presence of mold exceeds permissible exposure limits.
What If I Did Not Receive a Written Disclosure But Later Found That the Building Had a Previous Mold Problem?
If the presence of mold in the building was remediated according to California mold remediation guidelines prior to your tenancy, a residential landlord does not have to provide you with a written disclosure.
What are My Responsibilities as a Tenant to Keep My Home Free of Mold?
It is your responsibility as a renter to maintain your apartment or house in a clean and sanitary condition. Running your exhaust fans, vacuuming your carpets, and reporting any problems to your landlord in a prompt and timely manner will help prevent health problems.
Can I Sue My Landlord if I Get Sick From Mold in My Apartment or House?
A landlord can be held liable for damages resulting from a mold-related illness if a violation of the building code of the source of the problem. Examples may be:
- a roof, wall, or window leak that caused moisture to build up
- an interior plumbing leak
- deficient bathroom or kitchen ventilation
- failure to dry out carpets or other materials that may have been soaked by flooding, plumbing leaks or overflows, or fire clean-up
- failure to address written complaints in a timely manner
What Are My Potential Remedies?
Under California’s Repair and Deduct Law a tenant may do any of the following:
- deduct up to one month’s worth of rent and hire a contractor to make necessary repairs if the landlord has not responded in a timely manner to written notification of the problem
- not pay rent until the problem is remedied
- file a lawsuit to recover damages for both the illegal living environment and the damage to the health of the tenants
Do I Need a Lawyer to Help Resolve My Mold Dispute?
You should absolutely consult with a California lawyer before taking any steps which may lead to legal action. While the remedies outlined above are legally available to you as the tenant, they are very risky steps to take on your own. A good landlord-tenant lawyer will be able to give you the guidance you need to take action properly.