People who talk about black mold usually refer to Stachybotrys chartarum (S. chartarum). This is a type of toxic mold that can cause many respiratory complications from prolonged exposure. It is also a common allergen, so many people experience an immediate reaction following exposure. If you rent a home with black mold, is your landlord liable? Read on to find answers to some of the most common questions about black mold and tenant rights.
Are Landlords Liable for Black Mold in Their Rental Homes?
Landlords are generally responsible for removing any conditions that pose a threat to the health of a tenant. In Louisiana, LA Civ Code art. 2691 covers the “implied warranty of habitability,” which makes landlords responsible for providing safe living conditions in the dwelling. Texas Property Code 92.056 states that landlords are responsible for any conditions that “materially affect the physical health or safety of an ordinary tenant.” This applies as long as the tenant did not create the conditions, the landlord has received proper notice of a safety incident, and the tenant is not delinquent on rent. Other states across the country have similar laws.
How Much Time Does a Landlord Have To Remove Mold From the Rental Home?
A landlord must be given reasonable time to fix the conditions that pose a health risk in the rental home. This is generally considered to be seven days, although a few factors can increase the amount of time considered to be reasonable by the court, such as:
- The date of the incident: For example, if notice was given during or around an important holiday, the court might extend the time considered reasonable.
- The availability of materials and labor: If there is a known labor or materials shortage in the area, one would expect repairs to take longer.
- The severity of the condition: A case of black mold in the bathroom or under the kitchen sink may be easily resolved in the afternoon. However, if the entire basement is infested with black mold, it might require more than seven days to get rid of it all.
Although tenants are not required to send a second notice, it is generally a good idea to do so after the first seven days are up. This will help you prove negligence in court if you decide to pursue legal action. For this reason, sending a written notice by certified mail is also crucial. Since black mold infestations must be resolved quickly, you should first call or text your landlord to inform them of the situation and immediately follow up with a written notice.
What Types of Injuries Can I Get From Mold Exposure?
Mold injuries can vary greatly from person to person. Those who are allergic may experience a sudden and potentially catastrophic reaction upon first contact with black mold, while others can go weeks or months without developing noticeable symptoms. Some of the most common types of black mold injuries include:
- Respiratory diseases like hypersensitivity pneumonitis and asthma
- Allergic reactions, including frequent sneezing, itchiness, and wheezing
- Persistent coughing
- Brain fog, dizziness, and other minor brain injuries
If you are thinking about seeking compensation for your injuries in the future, it is important to get medically evaluated to document all of your injuries from black mold properly.
Can I Recover Compensation if I Suffered From Black Mold Exposure?
You may recover compensation for all damages associated with your black mold case if you prove that your landlord was negligent. To do this, you must show that your landlord failed to exercise reasonable care and that this led to your black mold injuries.
For example, you may be able to seek compensation from your landlord if a roof leak or a broken pipe caused mold in your home and your landlord failed to remedy the situation within a reasonable amount of time. The best way to prove that the landlord was negligent in this case is to send a written notice by certified or return receipt mail. This will help prove that the landlord was aware of the issue and failed to take action within a reasonable time.
On the other hand, if black mold developed in your bathroom because you left the faucet open, failed to take adequate care of the facilities, or were otherwise responsible for the mold growth, you may not be able to receive compensation for your black mold injuries.
What Kind of Compensation Can I Recover From a Black Mold Case?
You may recover compensation for all damages due to your landlord’s negligence. This includes economic and non-economic damages, such as:
- Medical bills associated with black mold exposure
- Lost wages due to health issues related to mold exposure
- Property damage, including replacing items ruined by the mold
- A mold inspection to confirm the cause of the health issues and assess the damage
- Structural repairs required to address the mold issue
- Pain and suffering
- Anxiety and depression
- Emotional distress
What Should I Do if I’ve Been Exposed to Black Mold?
If you have been exposed to black mold, you should take these steps as soon as possible:
- Seek medical attention: If you are experiencing health complications, you should see a doctor immediately. This is important for your health and will enable you to document any injuries sustained from the mold.
- Document the mold: Take plenty of pictures and videos of the mold as evidence of the infestation. Remember also to take extensive photographic evidence of any damaged property.
- Hire a testing company: A mold inspection company will give you an accurate indication of the type and level of mold. Some companies will also give you a quote for removing it.
- Notify your landlord: You should notify your landlord of the mold infestation in writing by certified mail. This will serve as a record of notification in case you decide to pursue compensation.
- Seek legal counsel: If your landlord fails to remedy your mold infestation, you may be able to recover compensation in a premises liability case. An experienced attorney will help you obtain the compensation you deserve for your black mold injuries.
Understanding the liability that your landlord carries for black mold in your property will empower you to take action if there’s an infestation. Don’t delay in protecting your health and legal rights.