If you’re dealing with apartment mold, you may be wondering how to best deal with it and what your options are. Exposure to mold can lead to a wide range of health problems and mold in apartments can damage your furnishings and other personal belongings. Mold remediation can be quite costly, though, and you may be wondering if the work and expense is your landlord’s responsibility or yours. It’s a complex issue but we’ll tell you what you should be able to expect from your landlord, as well as let you know what to do if you find mold in your apartment.
It’s a problem for all the reasons mold in houses is a problem.
It spreads easily, so mold on a closet wall could spread and end up damaging clothing or other items stored in the closet. Mold on the living room ceiling could spread and end up damaging your living room furniture.
Perhaps of greater concern, however, is the risk to your health. Exposure to household mold has been linked to all kinds of health problems, including allergic reactions, respiratory infections, asthma, and even bleeding in the lungs. You can read more about mold-related health problems.
Mold growth in apartments and other rental units poses some unique problems, though. Landlords may be reluctant to pay for costly mold remediation, but tenants are understandably reluctant to pay for repairs to a building they do not own and may not live in for long. Landlords may not want tenants to do the work themselves, either. Apartment leases often prohibit tenants from doing things like removing and replacing carpet, which may be necessary in order to remove mold.
If landlords fail to remove mold, tenants may want to move. If they have a lease, though, breaking the lease may have expensive consequences and make it difficult to find a new rental in the future.
As of 2016, there are no federal laws in the United States regarding mold and landlord/tenant responsibilities. A few states have laws related to this subject, including California, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey and Texas. Some cities also have relevant laws, including San Francisco and New York City. Even if you live in an area without laws addressing the subject of apartment mold specifically, though, in all states landlords are expected to provide a habitable rental unit. If mold is making your apartment unsafe to live in, your landlord is responsible for fixing the problem.
In general, landlords are responsible for mold remediation if mold results from something the landlord is responsible for repairing. For instance, if a leaky roof leads to mold growth, the landlord would probably be responsible for removing the mold as well as repairing the roof. Tenants are not typically responsible for roof repair and therefore they aren’t usually responsible for removing mold that results from a leaky roof.
Tenants are generally responsible for mold remediation if mold results from something they do. For instance, if you forget to close a window and it rains and the carpet gets wet and then gets moldy, you’ll probably be responsible for the cost of replacing the carpet and removing any other mold that has resulted from your negligence. However, even if tenants are responsible for the cost of mold removal, landlords may be required by law to have the work done in order to make the apartment habitable. Landlords can then charge tenants for the work.
You should consult an attorney if you need legal advice about a specific situation.
If you have renter’s insurance - and we recommend all renters purchase insurance for their own protection - it may cover the cost of some of your belongings if they are ruined by mold. It will depend on the specific coverage your policy provides and on the cause of the mold. Contact your insurance agent if you have questions.
If you find mold in your apartment, inform your landlord right away. Dealing with mold promptly limits the damage to your apartment and reduces the risk to your health. Let your landlord know where in the apartment you’ve seen mold and encourage him or her to come inspect the situation in person.
If your landlord doesn’t address the mold problem in a timely manner, we suggest putting your request in writing. You can see a sample letter to a landlord requesting mold removal. If your landlord has not visited your apartment to view the mold, it may help to enclose a few photos.
Contact the nearest office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or your local health department to learn about the laws regarding mold and landlord/tenant responsibilities in your area. The local health department may be able to assist you in dealing with your landlord, as well.
The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (commonly known as HUD) may be able to assist you, as well, particularly if you live in rent-subsidized housing or if you are a senior citizen or disabled. Here is a list of Local HUD Offices.
For more information and a free inspection for apartment mold, you can schedule an in-home consultation with a mold remediation professional. An experienced professional will identify all areas of mold in the apartment and provide written documentation of his or her findings. You can forward a copy of this to your landlord along with your request for him or her to arrange for mold removal.
There is no cost and no obligation to you. Don’t sign anything agreeing to pay for mold remediation, though, unless you are prepared to cover the cost yourself. If you want your landlord to pay for the mold removal, just forward the information. To find qualified mold removal professionals offering free in-home consultations and inspections in your area, just follow the link.