As renters in California, we have the right to live in a safe and healthy environment, which includes the quality of air in our homes, or indoor air quality (IAQ). Mold spores circulating in the air can create harmful living situations and lead to health problems for you and your family.
California is one of only five states to have regulations against mold growth in rentals, recognizing that there is a potential health risk involved with mycotoxins (molds that produce harmful chemical toxins).
Children, the elderly and persons with compromised immune or respiratory systems are at the highest risk for health issues due to mold. Effects can range anywhere from allergic reactions to rashes or repertory issues.
California State laws provide us, the renters, with the opportunity to fix the problems ourselves and deduct the cost from our rent. So if your landlord is lagging on fixing your property, you still have options. The Toxic Mold Prevention Act of 2001 (TMPA), established by the Department of Health Services (DHS), sets standards for mold levels in indoor air. The law also allows DHS to identify remediation standards for owners, contractors and landlords.
Mold growth is classified as a factor of inhabitable conditions and is required, by state law, to be taken care of by landlords according to Civil Code 1941.1, Green vs. Superior Court. This includes having proper inspections done by licensed mold inspectors and then having the mold removed from the property by qualified contractors. As tenants we have the right to hire inspectors ourselves to get this work done and take the cost out of the following month’s rent. However, you must give your landlord notice that you are having this work done and give him/her a proper amount of time to fix the issue.
It is also necessary for the mold growth to have been caused by faulty conditions to your home. Mold growth often occurs because of a leak from a pipe, roof or window. If the leak is slow and goes unnoticed for a long period of time, mold growth is practically a give-in and will need to be removed.
Mold growth can also be caused by your lifestyle as a tenant. If you have a lot of stuff in your home, or don’t properly ventilate while cooking and/or showering, condensation can build up in your home and cause mold growth. If this is the case, your landlord is not responsible for funding the repairs. However, if proper ventilation devices are not available in your home, then that is your landlord’s responsibility.
A properly licensed inspector should be able to find the cause of mold and you can figure out who’s at fault and should fund the repairs from there.
The most important factor to be aware of when it comes to mold in your home is the potential health risk involved. If you are feeling any symptoms while in your home, you should have it checked for mold. Even if you can’t see mold growth, that doesn’t mean it’s not there. It could be behind the paint on your walls, or in the drywall or just not visible to an untrained eye. If you are away from you home for a few days and these symptoms go away, that is a sure sign of issues in your home.
Even if you are not experiencing symptoms from mold, it can still affect your home and property. Mold can take away the integrity of the framework of your home and also your belongings. Things such as couches, mattresses, clothing, furniture, tables, etc. can all be ruined by mold growth.
It is important to know that under California law, repairs cannot be made by you, the tenant, and then deducted from your rent. You must hire a licensed professional to do the testing and work for you if you intend to have the work paid for by your landlord.
The laws can appear to be vague in reference to mold. Mold must be considered as a potential health concern when interpreting renter’s law.
When high levels of airborne toxic mold spores are inhaled deep into the lungs they can enter the bloodstream and affect the immune system, nervous system, liver, kidneys, blood and cause brain damage. With enough long-term exposure to elevated mold environments, it is possible for mold related illnesses and health effects to become life-long chronic diseases.
Refer to the specific California law for further information and details prior to taking action: http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/problems.shtml
For more information about tenant rights in the State of California and how an inspection can help determine if you have a problem at your property, call us at 1-866-358-3838 or email us here.