Can a Landlord Sue a Tenant for Mold Growth?

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Can a landlord sue a tenant for mold growth?

Recently, I came across some rather misleading advice online. The advice stated that as a tenant, if you suffered from any illness due to mold contamination in your rented home, then you could sue your landlord for compensation and damage.

All you need to do is to provide evidence of mold contamination and a report from a home inspector which confirming the presence of mold in the rental home.

Also get the air quality tested to determine if there were elevated and harmful levels of mold spores in the rented premises. While we are not lawyers and this article is not meant to provide legal advice, the tenant could actually be responsible for the said mold growth.

Majority of people, including some who conduct mold inspections, seem to believe that whenever there is mold growth in a building, it is the responsibility of the owner or the landlord.

In fact, once some tenants read the kind of advice given above they believe that finding mold in their rental homes or offices is enough reason for them to break a tenancy agreement and move out of the place early. Before a tenant rushes to sue their landlord, or break the tenancy agreement they should try to understand why the mold had grown in the first place and whether their actions or inactions would make them held responsible for that mold growth.

Similarly, before a landlord accepts responsibility for the said mold growth or blame it on their tenants, they should understand the cause of growth.

So, can a landlord sue a tenant for mold growth?

Mold growth and removal is not always the landlord’s responsibility. A landlord could sue the tenant if they could proof that the mold growth was due to the tenant’s negligence. Tenant negligence may include:

  1. Not notifying the landlord of the mold problem in a timely manner, i.e., immediately it is noticed, and hence making the problem worse. However, it may be difficult for the landlord to proof that the tenant knew of the problem but did not report immediately.
  2. Causing damage to the property that led to mold growth.
  3. Leading a lifestyle that could encourage mold growth. For example, not using fans when cooking, showering or doing other activities that generate moisture.

A landlord may not sue a tenant for mold growth and damage if they fail in their responsibilities or if the mold growth is due to structural defects.

Conclusion

To a certain extent, some mold is to be expected since we live in air-tight homes. In fact, many, if not all homes in North America suffer from some mold. Both the landlords and the tenants should, therefore, be considerate and not jump into suing each other over the slightest appearance of mold.

Courts should only be involved in cases of serious and persistent mold that is clearly due to negligence and the parties involved cannot resolve the problem. And contrary to public thinking, a landlord can sue a tenant if the mold growth is due to the tenant’s negligence.

Disclaimer: Mold cases can be complex and this short article is not meant to replace professional or legal advice.

If you have questions about this article or would like more information on our mold testing services, please contact us via telephone or email.

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Dr Jackson Kung'u
Dr. Jackson Kung’u is a Microbiologist who has specialized in the field of mycology (the study of moulds and yeasts). He is a member of the Mycological Society of America. He graduated from the University of Kent at Canterbury, UK, with a Masters degree in Fungal Technology and a PhD in Microbiology. He has published several research papers in international scientific journals. Jackson has analyzed thousands of mould samples from across Canada. He also regularly teaches a course on how to recognize mould, perform effective sampling and interpret laboratory results. Jackson provides how-to advice on mould and bacteria issues. Get more information about indoor mould and bacteria at www.drjacksonkungu.com.
Dr Jackson Kung'u

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