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There is Mold in my Rental. What Should I Do?

What should you do if you discover mold in your home? Here is a quick overview of the basics.

What dangers are hiding inside your home? Mold, asbestos, and other harmful toxins can be lurking behind walls, in dark corners, and under your floors. Exposure to these materials may not only compromise the safety and structural integrity of your home but can also cause serious health complications. What should you do if you discover mold in your home? Here is a quick overview of the basics.

What should you do if you have been exposed to mold?

Mold exposure can lead to a broad swath of health problems, from respiratory complications to nervous system disruption and brain damage. As such, if you have been exposed to mold, you should seek medical attention. While limited mold exposure can cause mild symptoms like a scratchy or sore throat, mold can be especially problematic for those with pre-existing respiratory issues or who are hypersensitive to mold and other allergens.

Is your landlord responsible for getting rid of mold?

Under California law, the landlord or property owner has a legal duty to provide safe and habitable conditions. The presence of mold does not necessarily render a property uninhabitable. However, The Toxic Mold Prevention Act of 2001 (TMPA) specifies how much mold is acceptable and sets the remediation standards for landlords or property owners when mold levels are too high. Acceptable, moderate mold levels generally do not legally warrant disclosure or remediation by the property owner, but more elevated levels certainly do, as they pose a serious health risk to tenants.

As with any other necessary repairs, your landlord is responsible for maintaining the rental property so that it is safe and habitable. Mold needs moisture and organic material to grow. So, while the landlord may recommend you self-treat mold with a bleach spray or other cleaner, the source of the mold could be a roof or foundation leak, or another issue in need of repair. If your landlord is unwilling to investigate the cause of the mold or chooses not to make necessary repairs under the terms of your lease, you may be able to deduct the cost of repairs from your rent. Contact a tenant attorney to discuss your options before acting, as improper rent withholding could result in eviction.

Can you sue your landlord for mold exposure?

Even if you believe you have a valid claim, suing your landlord for mold exposure can be challenging: you must prove that exposure to mold within your rental is the direct cause of your injury or illness, which is a highly fact-intensive inquiry. If you have been harmed by mold exposure in your home and your landlord has refused to remedy the problem, an experienced tenant attorney can help you recover the compensation you deserve.

Recoverable damages in a mold exposure lawsuit include compensation for related expenses including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage. You should document any evidence to support a claim that your illness or injury is a direct result of mold exposure and contact an attorney as soon as it becomes clear that your landlord is unwilling to resolve the issue.

Do you need a tenant attorney?

Suing a landlord for mold exposure can be challenging, but it is not impossible. You need an experienced tenant attorney to protect your rights. Whether you need support in convincing your landlord of the severity of the mold problem or if you had to vacate and need help recovering your security deposit and associated expenses, an attorney can fight for your right to recovery.

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