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.

State Landlord Responsibility?
Alabama Not addressed
Alaska Not addressed
Arizona Not addressed
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.
Connecticut Not addressed
Delaware Not addressed
Florida Not addressed
Georgia Not addressed
Hawaii Not addressed
Idaho Not addressed
Illinois Not addressed
Indiana Not addressed
Iowa Not addressed
Kansas Not addressed
Kentucky Not addressed
Louisiana Not addressed
Maine Not addressed
Maryland Not addressed
Massachusetts Prevent “chronic dampness” in rental units which includes mold.
Michigan Not addressed
Minnesota Not addressed
Mississippi Not addressed
Missouri Not addressed
Montana Not addressed
Nebraska Not addressed
Nevada Not addressed
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
Ohio Not addressed
Oklahoma Not addressed
Oregon Not addressed
Pennsylvania Not addressed
Rhode Island Not addressed
South Carolina Not addressed
South Dakota Not addressed
Tennessee Not addressed
Texas Not addressed
Utah 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.
Wyoming Not 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.

State How Request/Notice Can Be Made
In writing (only) Colorado, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, Washington
Orally or in writing California, 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.

State How Long Landlord Has to Comply
California Reasonable time period
Colorado 5 days
Massachusetts 14 days
North Carolina Reasonable time period
Vermont 30 days
Virginia 21 days
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.

Tenant Remedy State
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

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.