What Should You Do If You Find Mold in Your Apartment or Rental House?

The PropertyClub Team
Aug 9th 2020
Mold in an apartment or rental home is a significant health hazard for adults and especially for young children. This guide will help you recognize problems, teach you about your landlord's responsibilities, and ensure you keep yourself and your family safe.

Mold in an apartment is a significant health hazard for adults and especially for young children. Many law firms have won multimillion-dollar cases against landlords for their negligence in preventing black mold in apartments and taking care of the mold problems they’re already aware of.

Mold can cause severe symptoms like fatigue, nausea, asthma, rashes, and even internal organ damage. The scariest part is that these symptoms commonly overlap with a myriad of conditions, so there’s no effective way for a parent or spouse to accurately diagnose a mold infestation in their apartment without seeing it.

Use this guide to recognize mold in your apartment so you can keep you and your family safe. Learn when your landlord is liable for this problem so you can take the necessary legal action to get the problem cleaned up.

Recognize the smell

To recognize and take care of mold quickly, you should be familiar with its smell, which is long-lasting and musty. Realize that mold isn’t necessarily harmful to your health: the type has a significant impact on the adverse effects it may produce.

Once you recognize the smell, you should start looking for the places in which mold tends to grow. Mold can be black, white, green, gray, shiny, or dusty. Some of these varieties are easy to smell and see while others hide around baseboards, between walls, and in corners of your attic or basement.

Wet paint, cardboard, walls, and other damp infrastructure are perfect breeding grounds for mold. An apartment that experiences a flood or other water damage becomes much more likely to be contaminated with mold of many varieties.

This is especially true for apartments in states with naturally humid climates like California and Florida, which can experience mold infestations even without an accident that causes water damage. Landlords in those states should know how to prepare for mold and already have a plan to deal with possible infestations before their tenants’ health is affected.

It would be best if you can also recognize what it looks like. Apart from physically seeing the mold, noticing bubbling paint, drywall, or discolored paint and wood could be signs of mold growth.

Understand the impact of mold on health

Mold poses different health risks depending on the person who is affected. Children or adults with asthma are particularly vulnerable to mold, as it can cause sneezing, coughing, respiratory problems, itchy eyes, and other physical symptoms.

For those that come in contact with particularly harmful mold, such as black mold in their apartment, they need to be aware of the health risks and notice the signs. For example, itchiness, rashes, or trouble breathing that goes away when you leave your apartment is a clear sign of a mold infestation.

The best defense against mold growths is to find an apartment that is well-kept and protected against mold. However, controlling moisture is a great step towards curbing mold, even if the tenant takes matters into their own hands. This includes standing moisture as well as cleaning up any spills so they don’t seep into carpets and floorboards.

The last thing everyone should understand is that not all molds are dangerous. The mold that forms on bathrooms tiles, for instance, is harmless and just needs a good scrubbing. Knowing the difference will help you choose a course of action. In general, if the mold smells, it’s the bad kind.

A landlord’s job

If you find mold in an apartment, you may be wondering who is at fault, especially if someone got sick from it. Mold in an apartment concerns tenant rights, but there aren’t any building codes that specifically designate the responsibility. Guidelines on how much mold is permissible are rarely established in any state.

However, a landlord does have a contractual responsibility to provide safe and livable housing on their rental property. This can play a part in legal cases involving mold in apartments. If a landlord fails to fix a leak, for instance, and this causes an infestation of mold, a health-related legal case against the landlord can result in payment for medical damages.

However, if the tenant’s living conditions under their control caused the mold, they may not win the case. Some contracts specify that leaving a room on account of black mold in the apartment breaks the tenant’s lease. However, landlords who try to enforce these clauses for compensation are often not supported by courts, who rule in favor of public policy in the case of negligent maintenance in rental properties.

You may be wondering, “how long does a landlord have to fix a mold problem?” Unfortunately, since there’s no permissible mold limit in state or city safety codes. There’s also no clear-cut timeline for when a landlord has to take care of it.

The Takeaway

It’s important to you and your family’s health to recognize a mold problem before it gets out of control. This means recognizing mold colonies by sight and smell and also by their potential symptoms. The causes of mold are related to moisture and can often be prevented by conscientious tenants.

However, sometimes a landlord’s negligence is responsible for black mold in an apartment. A landlord that won’t fix a mold problem may be banking on the lack of legal limits concerning mold in most city and state safety codes. However, a dangerous amount of mold in an apartment can factor into cases involving tenants’ rights. Many legal cases have been won against landlords that have been proven negligent.

As a tenant, it’s vital to recognize negligence, even in yourself. As a landlord, fixing leaks and storm-proofing your rental properties could be an investment in you and your tenants’ health. Should you move if you have black mold? It may not be necessary. By working with your landlord, you may be able to fix the problem without further financial or medical damage.