What Should I Do If I Have Mold In My Apartment?
This is a commonly asked question by tenants who face mold issues in their apartments or rental homes.
Recently, New York recognized mold as a heath threat. Facing a law suit, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) agreed to remove mold in public housing more quickly and more thoroughly.
This is a historic agreement because it recognizes mold and moisture as a health threat and most importantly recognizes asthma as a disability, creating future liability concerns for landlords who do not address moisture and mold problems in their buildings.
This agreement should set a precedent throughout North America forcing landlords to take proper measures to reduce tenant exposure to mold, which has clearly been linked to childhood asthma as reported in this NBC Dateline documentary.
As a tenant, there are actions you can take to try to resolve your mold issues. Landlord-Tenant relationships are under the jurisdiction of the State or Province that you may live in. With this in mind, here are some links that may help you:
Mold in Rentals: Landlord Liability, Responsibility, and Prevention: This article provides US citizens with a general overview of landlord liability issues pertaining to mold and your rights as a tenant. There are some great links in this article written by a legal expert.
Tenant Rights to Withold Rent by State: This is an excellent resource for US citizens who want to know what their rights are in the State they live in. This page also has two additional sections: “Tenant Rights to Repairs and Maintenance” and “Getting Your Landlord to Make Repairs.”
Landlord and tenant information by province/territory: This is a useful link for Canadians because it provides links to each province in Canada.
Generally speaking, as a tenant and regardless of what state or province you live in, you have the right to live in a clean and habitable housing environment. This means the landlord is responsible for offering you a safe environment to live in and must repair issues such as leaky pipes, roofs, and windows. If you encounter a situation where you have a leaky pipe or ceiling, then you should bring this to the attention of your landlord immediately. The key is to document every occurrence where you encounter moisture that could lead to mold. Documentaion is important to your defence if the landlord fails to address your concerns. If you encounter mold, it is very important that you take pictures as well.
If you have an ethical and smart landlord, your issues will be dealt with. However, if your complaints are not addressed to your satisfaction, you can pursue your case further by contacting your local health department, the Rentalsman in your State or Province that arbitrate landlord-tenant disputes, your local media to create some media hype and pressure, a local mold remediation expert to verify the extent of the mold problem, and/or contact a local attorney to represent you should you choose to sue your landlord for damages to personal property and your health.
If you are currently renting and are dealing with mold issues, then the information and links above provide you with lots of information to help you address the situation with your landlord. However, if you are currently planning to rent an apartment and are concerned about mold, then Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation advises that you should consider these factors in your search:
1. Avoid basement apartments which tend to be damp and prone to mould-growth;
2. Avoid upper-floor apartments in buildings that have wet basements, since mould spores can circulate throughout the entire building;
3. Avoid apartments that do not have working kitchen or bathroom fans;
4. Avoid apartments with old carpets, or ask the landlord to change them before you move in; and
5. Avoid buildings that have a history of roof or plumbing leaks.
— Got #Mold?™ (@gotmoldglobal) January 24, 2013