As with other states, Texas property laws outline various duties and responsibilities for landlords. These can range from keeping the premises safe to dealing with various repairs and other issues. Failure to comply with these duties and requirements can result in legal liability for the landlord.

For instance, the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act requires landlords to disclose known facts about the property that may strongly influence a prospective tenant’s decision to rent. This includes disclosing knowledge about currently existing issues with the property, such as water leaks and mold infestations

In most cases, landlords will offer the information to avoid any potential legal liability. Also, if a prospective tenant asks about these issues, a landlord is required to answer truthfully.

Does a Landlord Have a Duty to Remove Mold from a Rental Property?

The Texas Property Code requires landlords to address and repair certain conditions. Landlords must make diligent efforts to fix an issue when all the following conditions are met:

  • The tenant provides sufficient notice of the condition to the person who normally accepts rent;
  • The tenant is not currently delinquent or behind in rent payments at the time;
  • The condition materially affects the physical health, safety, or well-being of an ordinary tenant; and
  • The tenant, a member of the tenant’s family, or a guest of the tenant did not cause the mold condition. 

What if the Tenant was the Cause of the Mold Problem?

Landlords are typically not responsible for fixing mold damage if the tenant or someone the tenant knows caused the mold condition or mold damage. Similarly, landlords are generally not responsible either if a water leak caused by a tenant results in mold growth.

A landlord’s desire to protect their property by preventing mold problems should be more important than placing blame on the tenant. However, a tenant who is at fault should not be surprised if the landlord confronts them with a repair bill for mold issues.

Can a Landlord Rely on a Waiver to Avoid Repairing Mold Problems?

Generally speaking, no. Under Texas state laws, the landlord’s statutory duty to make repairs and remedy certain conditions cannot ever be waived by the tenant. This means that the landlord has an affirmative duty at all times to abide by the Texas statutory requirements. 

One concern here is where the landlord and tenant have agreed to specific terms or clauses in a rental agreement or landlord-tenant agreement. Having a landlord-tenant agreement in place is generally acceptable. However, the terms must follow Texas state laws. Thus, attempts to waive mold repair responsibilities in a contract may make the contract invalid or unenforceable with regard to that clause. 

Thus, if the landlord and tenant wish to form a rental agreement, then they may wish to consult with attorneys first. An attorney can help with the drafting and review of the contract document, to ensure that no property laws are being violated in the agreement. However, it is always a good idea to have separate attorneys, especially if there is a reason as to why the landlord and tenant wish to draft a unique agreement.

Can a Tenant Sue Their Landlord if They Get Sick from Mold?

One of the main concerns with mold damage is not just regarding property, but because it can lead to injuries. It can create new injuries in people and can aggravate people who may have asthma or other medical conditions. 

Toxic mold is especially of concern if it originates in central heating, air conditioning, or other vents. The mold could spread through the vents or expose the tenants to toxicity through inhaling the substances. This can cause injuries to several people at one time, and can often spread to other parts of a building (such as in an apartment complex or other multiple-resident dwelling place).

Thus if the landlord knew, or should have known, about a water leak or mold growth in the dwelling, they could be liable for any personal injuries, health problems, and damage to personal property items from the resulting mold infestation.  

In the event of a lawsuit over mold injuries, the injured party may be entitled to remedies. These may depend on the nature of the injuries as well as the entire situation surrounding the mold injuries. Remedies generally may involve some sort of monetary damages award

The damages may help the victim be compensated for losses like medical costs, pain and suffering, property damage (mold can often spread to personal items, not just walls or ceilings) and other losses. 

Do I Need a Texas Lawyer to Help Deal with My Mold Problem?

Mold requirements for property owners in Texas can be complex. If you have any legal issues in this area, a landlord-tenant lawyer will be able to help you decide on a course of action. Mold can sometimes be a serious problem, affecting not only your property but your health as well. If you have become sick due to mold in your dwelling you should contact a real-estate lawyer as soon as possible.