- Responsibility for Remediation. Only 9 states specifically require the landlord to remedy mold problems and/or assign responsibilities to the landlord concerning the same(read more).
- Time to Repair. If it’s the landlord’s responsibility, some states specify a time frame to resolve the mold problem, while others aren’t specific beyond a “reasonable” time period (read more).
- Tenant’s Options. If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, depending on the state, tenants may have multiple options for recourse, such as withholding rent or terminating the lease (read more).
We look at which states require landlords to remediate mold and what the requirements are in those states.
Each state has its own rules on what needs to be provided for living conditions in rentals to be deemed “acceptable”, known as the Implied Warranty of Habitability. Below is a breakdown of those laws as it relates to the landlord’s responsibilities regarding mold.
Addressing Mold Problems
The following chart lists the landlords’ responsibilities according to state law in each state when it comes to mold. Any exceptions to the requirements are noted for each state.
Note: the below table only addresses state laws. Always check with county or city housing codes for additional requirements.
|Arkansas||None—landlords are not required to provide habitable rental units.|
|California||Determine jointly with the tenant whether there is a mold problem that needs remediation and/or if the unit has become unhabitable because of the same.
Remediation of the mold.
|Colorado||Ensure that there is no mold on the rental property and that there are no conditions that cause continual dampness in the rental property.|
|Massachusetts||Prevent “chronic dampness” in rental units which includes mold.|
|New Hampshire||Not addressed|
|New Jersey||Not addressed|
|New Mexico||Not addressed|
|New York||Not addressed|
|North Carolina||Mitigate standing water or drainage problems and repair any leaks that could cause mold.|
|North Dakota||Not addressed|
|Rhode Island||Not addressed|
|South Carolina||Not addressed|
|South Dakota||Not addressed|
|Vermont||Ensure that rental units don’t have standing water or excessive moisture that could lead to visible mold.|
|Virginia||Disclose the presence of visible mold in a rental unit to potential tenants.
Remediation of the mold.
Provide alternative housing at no cost to the tenant if the tenant cannot stay in the unit during remediation.
|Washington||Provide tenants information about the dangers of indoor mold, and what tenants can do to prevent mold growth.|
|West Virginia||Not addressed|
|Wisconsin||Remediation of the mold.|
|Washington, D.C.||Provide tenants with a three-year history of “mold contamination” for the rental unit, OR proof of acceptable mold remediation.
Remediation of any new mold.
Where the state laws require the landlords to fix the mold problems, the landlords are required to remediation of the mold as opposed to simple removal. Currently, the legal definition of mold remediation includes “removal, cleaning, sanitizing, demolition or other treatment, including preventive activities, of mold or mold-contaminated matter that was not purposely grown at that location.”
Addressing Mold Issues
Tenants are required to notify their landlord of mold problems or of the latter’s failure to comply with mold-related responsibilities. Depending on the state, this can be done orally or in writing. However, most states only allow for requests to be made in writing. The below table shows which types of repair requests are legally acceptable in each state.
|State||How Request/Notice Can Be Made|
|In writing (only)||Colorado, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, Washington|
|Orally or in writing||California, Wisconsin, DC|
Even if a state does not require it, it’s highly recommended to put all requests in writing in case there is a dispute about the need for the repair or the timing of the request.
Time to Repair
Below is a table for the time frame landlords have to make the repair, starting the day the request or notice is received.
|State||How Long Landlord Has to Comply|
|California||Reasonable time period|
|North Carolina||Reasonable time period|
|Washington||24 hours to 10 days|
|Wisconsin||Timeframe provided by landlord|
|Washington, D.C.||Reasonable time period|
Tenant’s Options if the Landlord Refuses to Act
Some states offer remedies for tenants if the landlords fail or refuse to comply with the latter’s mold-related duties. However, tenants cannot resort to the following remedies if they have not given the landlord appropriate notice/time to make any repairs or correct the issue.
Common remedies tenants have in these situations include:
Termination of the lease without losing the deposit or incurring other penalties.
Withholding rent until the problem is rectified.
Paying for the remediation and thereafter deducting the cost from the rent.
Paying less or reduced rent.
Suing for damages incurred as a result of the landlord’s failure to comply with duties.
We break down tenant options by state in the chart below.
|Withhold Rent||California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Vermont|
|Move Out/ Terminate Lease||California, Colorado, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., Wisconsin|
|Contact Inspector||Washington, Washington, D.C., Wisconsin|
|Pay Reduced Rent||Wisconsin|
|Pursue Legal Action||California, Colorado, North Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., Wisconsin|
|Repair the Issue||California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Vermont, Washington|
Retaliation by landlords against their tenants because the tenant requested necessary repairs or remediation to make the rental unit habitable is illegal in most states.