Often, we hear of tenants suing their landlords, or in some cases, homeowners taking legal action against the sellers they bought their homes from, after discovering mold growth on walls, ceilings, or in the bathrooms of their rental properties. Typically, the tenants allege that they were exposed to mold and that their health has suffered as a result. They attribute this to negligence on the part of the landlord and may seek a specific amount in compensatory and general damages, along with associated costs.
Before considering legal action, it’s crucial to understand a few key points about mold growth. First, although indoor mold growth is generally considered as a potential health hazard, there is currently little available scientific data to substantiate this claim. Therefore, there is no established health-based exposure limit for indoor mold exposure. This means it would be a challenge to prove that mold is the cause of the illness. Secondly, mold develops from spores, and there is no home entirely free of them. These spores need moisture to germinate and grow into visible mold. Apart from leaks or floods, any activity that generates high humidity in a home can contribute to mold growth. This means that a tenant’s actions or inactions could potentially be a factor in mold growth. In such cases, it may not be reasonable for them to pursue legal action.
When Does Mold Litigation by a Tenant Not Make Sense?
Mold litigation may not make sense if a tenant, or the person filing the lawsuit, is directly or indirectly responsible for the mold growth. There are circumstances where a tenant could potentially be held responsible for the mold they are suing for. These include:
- Failure to Report Leaks or Water Intrusion: This encompasses issues like roof leaks, pipe leaks, sewer line problems, flooding, and moisture entering through the building structure. If a tenant neglects to promptly report these issues to the landlord, and this negligence leads to mold growth, they may bear partial or full responsibility.
- Improper Ventilation: Inadequate ventilation creates a damp environment, which is ideal for mold growth. Proper ventilation removes excess moisture, while poor ventilation allows it to accumulate. Therefore, if a tenant doesn’t maintain proper ventilation in areas like bathrooms, kitchens, or laundry rooms, it can create conditions conducive to mold growth, potentially constituting neglect on the tenant’s part.
- Blocking Ventilation or Heating Sources: Blocking ventilation systems or heating sources with furniture, clothing, or other items can lead to moisture buildup and mold growth.
- Improper Cleaning and Maintenance: Neglecting to clean and maintain the rental unit, allowing dust, dirt, and debris to accumulate, can contribute to mold growth. Regular cleaning reduces the availability of spores for mold to grow.
- Introducing Excessive Moisture: Any activity that generates moisture can contribute to mold growth. This includes activities like indoor clothes drying without proper ventilation, leaving windows open during rain, or neglecting to use exhaust fans in high-moisture areas.
The information provided above is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as professional or legal advice. Any reliance on the information contained on this website is at your own risk. You should consult with a qualified professional or legal advisor for advice specific to your situation. The author and Mold & Bacteria Consulting Laboratories do not accept any responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on information contained in this article.
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