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Mold and Landlord
Mold and the Landlord's Duty to Maintain Habitable Premises
Even if your state or city doesn't have specific mold laws, your landlord may still be liable for a mold problem in your rental. Here’s an overview of the issues. To learn more about the landlord's duty to repair, see the Nolo section Repairs and Maintenance, which includes articles on getting your landlord to make repairs, and your options such as rent withholding, under state law.
Mold Caused by a Landlord's Failure to Fix Leaks
Landlords in all states but Arkansas are responsible for maintaining fit and habitable housing and repairing rental property, and this extends to fixing leaking pipes, windows, and roofs -- the causes of most mold. If the landlord doesn't take care of leaks and mold grows as a result, you may be able to hold the landlord responsible if you can convince a judge or jury that the mold has caused a health problem.
Mold Caused by Tenant Behavior
The liability picture changes when mold grows as the result of your own behavior, such as keeping the apartment tightly shut, creating high humidity, or failing to maintain necessary cleanliness. When a tenant's own negligence is the sole cause of injury, the landlord is not liable.
Mold Clauses in Leases
Some landlords include clauses in the lease that purport to relieve them from any liability resulting from mold growth. At least one court (in Tennessee) has refused to enforce such a clause, ruling that to do so would be against public policy. More cases from other parts of the country are sure to arise as mold litigation makes its way through the courts.
A smart landlord will try to prevent the conditions that lead to the growth of mold -- and tenants should be the landlord's partner in this effort. This approach requires maintaining the structural integrity of the property (the roof, plumbing, and windows), which is the landlord's job. You can help by preventing mold problems in your home in the first place and promptly reporting problems that need the landlord's attention.
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