Learn how the law protects both tenants and landlords, and how you can protect yourself in case mold is present in a rental property.
Although individuals or businesses providing mold remediation and inspection in Florida are required to be licensed and certified by the state, there is no specific federal law that covers the responsibilities of the landlord regarding mold. However, in the case of tenants who have experienced harm due to serious mold infestation in the property they are renting, the law does allow for their protection. Tenants may file for damages in court to help them compensate for the cost they incurred as a result of exposure.
What Landlords Can Do to Protect Themselves
Aside from ensuring that their property is well-cared for and free from anything that could harm the health of the tenants, landlords must ensure that they meet the minimum requirements when it comes to handling mold problems. In the state of Florida, mold that infests at least 10 sq. ft. of an area in the property must be assessed and treated by companies that are duly licensed by the state, such as an independent mold assessor or inspector and a mold remediation company. It might be a good idea to conduct an annual inspection of all properties to make sure that a leak or potential issue doesn’t get out of hand.
In case a tenant caused the problem – such as if the tenant was negligent in the reasonable care and maintenance of the rental property and allowing the growth of mold – the landlord is allowed by law to take the cost of the mold treatment from the security deposit of the tenant. Landlords are allowed to take this action as long as they inform the tenant through a written notice that explains the situation and includes the costs of mold damage within 30 days of the lease termination if the tenant is vacating the property. The tenant, however, must agree within 15 days, after which the landlord must give back the remainder of the security deposit within 30 days of the day the written explanation was given.
What Tenants Can Do
Tenants are legally required and expected to provide reasonable care to the property they are renting. This includes cleaning and maintaining the premises. However, if mold is indeed discovered, tenants or condominium owners must notify their landlord (or in the case of condominium owners, their association) in writing immediately. Tenants must also ensure that the notice was received. This notice will show that the tenant has taken action on the issue. It will also help mark the date of the complaint.
It is also a good idea to document the problem. Aside from informing the landlord through a written notice, a tenant should also take photographs of the affected areas in the property as proof of the problem. If no action is taken by the landlord within a reasonable period, the tenant may wish to either make another written complaint or talk to a lawyer to expedite the solution to the problem. There are legal services that specialize in mold problems, and many of them provide a free consultation. Taking a legal course of action may be necessary for situations where the issue is ignored or denied, or if a misunderstanding occurs.
The presence of mold in a property may lead to unpleasant health problems. It may even indicate more significant issues in the property, such as water leakage and circulation problems. The key to handling it is to take immediate action to ensure that the problem is assessed, treated, and resolved in a timely and fair manner. This will help both tenants and landlords avoid costly legal procedures.
We recommend that the tenant receive approval from the landlord before calling us, but if you need information about the severity of the situation to create momentum with the landlord, we are happy to take a look. Remediation must be approved by the landlord or property manager. Call Treasure Coast Mold Pros to put your mind at ease or if you would like a third party opinion about the situation.