Can a Tenant Legally Break a Lease Due to Mold?

Last Updated: October 10, 2023 by Phil Ahn

A tenant may be able to terminate their lease early due to mold depending on the severity of the mold. If the mold is so severe as to make the premises uninhabitable, the tenant will be able to terminate the lease.

Can a Tenant Break a Lease Due to Mold?

A tenant can break a lease because of mold. Every state has specific health and safety codes that provide minimum standards for rental units. If those standards are not met even after notice has been given and a certain amount of time has passed, the tenant would be considered “constructively evicted”.

Local building codes outline the standards that rental units must meet. As a general rule of thumb, an implied warranty of habitability means that the landlord has provided:

  • Drinkable water
  • Hot water
  • Heat during cold weather
  • Working electricity
  • Adequate ventilating system
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Working bathroom and toilet
  • Sanitary premises, including the removal of insect or rodent infestation
  • Protection from criminal harm in the form of locks and window guards
  • Up-to-date conformity to building codes

What Qualifies as Mold?

Mold is a fungal growth that forms and spreads on various kinds of damp or decaying organic matter.

How Do Tenants Prove Mold?

A tenant can prove there is an issue with mold by providing photos of the mold problem.

How to Terminate a Lease Due to Mold

A tenant can terminate the lease for mold by having proof of the mold, notifying the landlord of the issue, and giving the landlord a chance to remedy the issue.

Notifying the Landlord

A tenant must first notify the landlord of the defective conditions, in writing. Depending on the state, the landlord will have a certain period of time to address the issues.

Terminating the Lease

The implied warranty of habitability ensures that the premises is kept in a good enough condition that is livable for tenants. 

Constructive eviction occurs when the rental premise becomes uninhabitable to the point that the tenant is forced to leave. This means it is impossible for the tenant to stay on the premise, and is constructively evicted by the landlord.

For a tenant to have a constructive eviction claim, they must show the following:

  • The landlord neglected a duty
  • The place has become uninhabitable
  • The landlord was given notice
  • The tenant left the premises

If the mold is so great that the tenant can no longer live in the premises, they must provide notice to the landlord. Once the landlord has given notice, if they fail to remedy the situation, then the tenant will be able to break the lease.