Whether someone rents an apartment from a management company or a townhome or single family residence from an individual, they may experience a mold problem at some point. If this happens, swift action needs to be taken. The family’s health could be at risk.
To determine if mold exists, the tenant will need to have the property inspected. Landlords may be hesitant to agree to this because, if the inspector finds mold, it could become extremely costly for the landlord. But the tenant’s health is what is most important, so even if the landlord pushes back, the tenant needs to fight. The best way to do that might be with the guidance and support of a trusted legal advisor.
Black mold is one of the most serious types of mold that exists. This mold thrives in dark, damp, and poorly ventilated areas. Commonly found inside walls or at the base of windows, living with this mold nearby can cause lifelong health problems.
Black mold can cause:
- Respiratory issues
- Internal organ damage
- Mental impairment
- Skin inflammation
Besides adverse health effects, black mold can also cause irreparable property damage. Therefore, it may actually be in the landlord’s best interests to locate and repair the problem as quickly as possible.
Landlords must provide tenants with safe and habitable places to live. Legally, this is called an implied warranty of habitability. This sets a standard for landlords of what is considered a habitable place to live, and it may vary from place to place. Florida, for example, requires working air conditioning. Other parts of the country may not.
Usually protected by building codes and other local jurisdictions, the health and safety of renters are important. Renters may also have legal standing, besides local building codes, to file a lawsuit against their landlord. Through the lease that both parties signed, there should be language concerning major issues. Although a leaky faucet might not be considered a serious health problem, black mold certainly would be.
Under the lease agreement, a landlord would be required to fix a mold problem, just like any other serious issue like a broken pipe. Because a broken pipe itself could lead to a mold problem, if a landlord failed to fix a broken pipe, for example, they may be liable for the development of the black mold. Once a landlord is made aware that a problem exists, they must fix it or risk liability.
Suing a Landlord
Suing a landlord might seem like an option of last resort. But sometimes it is what is needed to push a landlord to do not only what is right, but also what they are required to do under the law.
The first step in suing a landlord is to understand the severity of the problem. Upon discovering the black mold, the tenant should immediately contact their landlord. The landlord is legally responsible for not only removing the mold and hazardous living conditions, but also for reimbursing the tenant for any expenses they may have incurred to detect and locate the black mold.
Even if a landlord acts responsibly and quickly, there is no way to know exactly how long the tenant was living with mold in their presence. Therefore, health problems could still arise, and the tenant may be able to hold the landlord accountable for those issues.
Depending on a tenant’s health issues, a lawsuit may be able to recover compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Lost income
- Lost earning potential
- Present and future medical expenses
- Relocation costs
A landlord owes a tenant a duty of care to keep their living space in habitable condition. When they fail to do so, such as when black mold develops and creates a hazardous living situation, tenants have a right to hold their landlord accountable. Part of that accountability includes collecting compensation for the injuries the tenant has suffered.
It is vital that tenants who suspect black mold keep detailed records. Because some health issues will not develop for some time, a tenant may not realize they need medical assistance right away. But even if the medical needs appear later, the tenant should still not be the one to cover those expenses. That should be the sole responsibility of the landlord, since they were the ones who ignored a black mold problem or failed to act appropriately and provide the tenant with a safe and healthy place to live.
When a Landlord Does Nothing
When a landlord takes no action to combat the black mold, the tenant may have no option other than move. This is done purely to ensure the safety of the tenant and their family.
But this will incur additional costs. The tenant may not be able to find suitable living spaces on short notice and may have to rent something short term at higher rates. They may even be forced to choose a hotel, further increasing their costs. But it was the landlord that put the tenant in this position, and it is the landlord that should reimburse the tenant for these additional costs.
Moving out may seem like an extreme option. For many families, it is the only option that guarantees their safety. Black mold is not a problem to take lightly. If tenants are forced to move because their landlord ignores the mold problem, there is some comfort in knowing that the tenant has legal options to hold the landlord accountable.
Towson Real Estate Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC can Help Keep Your Family Safe
Toxic mold can be hazardous to your health. If untreated, it can have dire consequences that may last forever. Suing your landlord may be the best way to get your family into a better situation by either finding a new place to live or forcing your landlord to fix the problem. Proving mold exists and getting compensation for you are our goals. The Towson real estate lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC know what it takes to help you recover maximum compensation and get a healthier living situation. For more information and a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 443-589-0150. Located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we serve clients throughout Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.