On behalf of Law Office of Paul Mankin posted in blog on Thursday, May 4, 2017.
Living with mold can create an unpleasant environment. Worse than the sight and the smell, however, are the potentially serious health problems that can arise. Many people, especially children and the elderly, can develop respiratory conditions and allergies. Some types of molds are toxic and can cause severe illness.
So, what can you do if you move into an apartment and discover the presence of mold? According to a recent California law, your landlord must disclose in writing the presence of mold that puts tenants' health at risk. The California Department of Public Health takes the position that trying to determine safe levels of mold is difficult and unreliable. Rather, the Department considers any presence of mold or moisture unacceptable and urges landlords to remediate it as soon as possible.
Alert your landlord
If you notice signs of mold or dampness in your apartment or other areas of the building, let your landlord know at once. You can call the office, but you should also e-mail or write so that you have proof that you notified the landlord. Otherwise, the landlord may later claim he or she never knew there was mold.
Leave a paper trail
Hopefully, the landlord will react quickly, repair the source of the leak and clean up the mold. Unfortunately, many landlords drag their feet and let weeks or months go by without doing anything. Mold may fall into the category of problems that affect your apartment's habitability.
Consult a lawyer about other remedies
Tenants whose landlords fail to make their apartments habitable may be entitled to withhold rent or to repair on their own and deduct the costs from their next rent payment. You should not try these strategies without speaking to an experienced attorney. Many tenants attempt these tactics without knowing the right way; the consequences of getting it wrong can be severe and even result in eviction. Your attorney can help you fix the problem safely and legally.