Responsibilities for Mold

QUICK FACTS
  • 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.

StateLandlord Responsibility?
AlabamaNot addressed
AlaskaNot addressed
ArizonaNot addressed
ArkansasNone—landlords are not required to provide habitable rental units.
CaliforniaDetermine 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.

ColoradoEnsure that there is no mold on the rental property and that there are no conditions that cause continual dampness in the rental property.
ConnecticutNot addressed
DelawareNot addressed
FloridaNot addressed
GeorgiaNot addressed
HawaiiNot addressed
IdahoNot addressed
IllinoisNot addressed
IndianaNot addressed
IowaNot addressed
KansasNot addressed
KentuckyNot addressed
LouisianaNot addressed
MaineNot addressed
MarylandNot addressed
MassachusettsPrevent “chronic dampness” in rental units which includes mold.
MichiganNot addressed
MinnesotaNot addressed
MississippiNot addressed
MissouriNot addressed
MontanaNot addressed
NebraskaNot addressed
NevadaNot addressed
New HampshireNot addressed
New JerseyNot addressed
New MexicoNot addressed
New YorkNot addressed
North CarolinaMitigate standing water or drainage problems and repair any leaks that could cause mold.
North DakotaNot addressed
OhioNot addressed
OklahomaNot addressed
OregonNot addressed
PennsylvaniaNot addressed
Rhode IslandNot addressed
South CarolinaNot addressed
South DakotaNot addressed
TennesseeNot addressed
TexasNot addressed
UtahNot addressed
VermontEnsure that rental units don’t have standing water or excessive moisture that could lead to visible mold.
VirginiaDisclose 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.

WashingtonProvide tenants information about the dangers of indoor mold, and what tenants can do to prevent mold growth.
West VirginiaNot addressed
WisconsinRemediation of the mold.
WyomingNot addressed
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.

Mold Remediation

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.

StateHow Request/Notice Can Be Made
In writing (only)Colorado, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, Washington
Orally or in writingCalifornia, Wisconsin, DC
NOTE

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.

StateHow Long Landlord Has to Comply
CaliforniaReasonable time period
Colorado5 days
Massachusetts14 days
North CarolinaReasonable time period
Vermont30 days
Virginia21 days
Washington24 hours to 10 days
WisconsinTimeframe 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.

Tenant RemedyState
Withhold RentCalifornia, Colorado, Massachusetts, Vermont
Move Out/ Terminate LeaseCalifornia, Colorado, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., Wisconsin
Contact InspectorWashington, Washington, D.C., Wisconsin
Pay Reduced RentWisconsin
Pursue Legal ActionCalifornia, Colorado, North Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., Wisconsin
Repair the IssueCalifornia, Colorado, Massachusetts, Vermont, Washington

Landlord Retaliation

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.