Who is Liable for Mold in a Rental?

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Mold is toxic and can have serious negative effects on human health. Mold in the air, in the walls, and on surfaces within a home can cause respiratory problems, allergies, and chronic illnesses. Many homes in Florida have ideal environments for mold, which thrives in moist and humid atmospheres. Rental properties with mold could expose the property owner to liability for occupants’ physical injuries and illnesses, depending on the circumstances.

Property Owner Responsibilities in Florida

All property owners owe duties of care to visitors such as houseguests, but owners who rent properties out to others must obey even higher safety standards. Renters are invitees, or the highest classification of property visitor. Owners must check for hidden hazards, repair known dangers, and warn of potential risks before welcoming tenants into a rental. Failing to fulfill these three requirements as a reasonable and prudent property owner would in the same circumstances may qualify as negligence if it causes a tenant injury, illness, or death.

If a property owner or landlord fails to inspect for mold, intentionally ignores mold issues, does not remedy the issue in a reasonable amount of time, ignores tenant complaints regarding mold, or fails to warn a tenant about a possible mold issue, the owner of the rental could be liable for any related damages. Damages the landlord must pay could include the tenant’s hospital bills, pain and suffering, lost quality of life, property damage, and lost wages from missed time at work. You should consult a local premises liability attorney, if you are unsure about filing a claim against your landlord.

Unfortunately for tenants in Florida, no state or federal law exists to set mold exposure limits or tolerance standards for mold in residential buildings, nor to establish regulations for mold quantities in indoor air. This could make it more difficult for a tenant to hold a landlord responsible for mold-related damages. However, if the landlord failed to reasonably provide safe and livable housing, the landlord may still absorb liability despite a lack of specific safety laws.

What to Do About Mold in a Rental

Mold can enter a home’s interior through any type of opening. It can also coat a building’s exterior in humid environments. Signs of mold in a rental include a musty smell and black spots on a surface. Exposure to mold can cause a wide range of health conditions and illnesses, some more serious than others.

  • Mold poisoning
  • Fatigue or muscle weakness
  • Headache
  • Itchy or irritated eyes or skin
  • Sinus problems
  • Persistent cough
  • Respiratory problems
  • Asthma-like symptoms
  • Nausea and diarrhea

The moment you suspect mold in a rental, file a complaint with your landlord and request repairs. See a physician about any health complaints. Keep records of your medical bills and related expenses. Then, talk to a local injury lawyer about a potential claim against your landlord for negligent property maintenance.

How to Prove Your Case

Mold can infiltrate a rental property because of a leaking roof, leaky pipes, old windows, and damp crawlspaces that do not get enough ventilation. If the landlord negligently fails to maintain a home and take care of mold risk factors, resulting in mold growth and related health damages, you could have a case of negligence against the landlord. You will need a preponderance of evidence proving the landlord’s negligence to qualify for financial compensation in Florida.

You or your lawyer will need to prove your landlord had a duty to clear the property of mold or otherwise prevent your damages, the landlord breached this duty through an act of negligence, and that this breach caused your injuries. Prepare for a defense such as a mold clause in your lease or comparative fault (a plaintiff’s fault for the incident). Hiring an attorney can help you build and argue a strong case against your landlord or another party for mold in a rental.