How do I handle a serious mold infestation in a Florida property I rent from someone else?

Sun, Apr 29, 2012

General Legal Issues

How do I handle a serious mold infestation in a Florida property I rent from someone else?The health issues caused by some types of mold have captured everyone’s attention in recent years.

Small patches of mold are often cleaned easily. We are not talking about those in this post though–we are discussing large mold infestations, potentially of toxic mold strains.

What do you do if you have this in a property that you rent from someone else? Well, this all depends on your lease and the state you live in. (We will be talking about Florida’s laws for this blog post.)

SmithLaw has some starting points:

  1. Start by reading your lease. Most leases state that rental property needs to be cared for by the tenant in some manner. Hopefully you have been keeping the property in a manner that is required by the lease. Leases usually state what this means and how much care a tenant is responsible for. Make sure you have tried anything that is called for in the lease or anything reasonable that has been suggested by the landlord in the past (unless you really feel uncomfortable doing so or are unable to).
  1. Document the mold problem. Take pictures and videos if you can. Keep records of any doctor visits or lab results that pertain to mold problems. All of this could be useful in the future.
  1. Contact your landlord. Many rental properties have specific procedures for filing maintenance requests. If you feel that your mold situation warrants more than a call to maintenance, try scheduling an appointment with the landlord directly. It would be good for them to see the extent of the problem. Try to get this interaction in writing somehow—by having the manager sign that you notified them of the problem on such and such date. At the very least, keep detailed notes. Hopefully the landlord will hire a qualified crew to clean up the mold and find the reason for it.

If you are unable to get the landlord to pay attention to your serious mold problem or if your landlord is unwilling to address the main cause of the mold, be aware that the mold might come back. Both of these situations require further intervention.

Florida has rules that govern rental property. (Your specific county might also have rules governing this as well.) These rules cover issues of health and safety. Having large amounts of mold, especially of certain types, in a home is considered unhealthy. It would make the home uninhabitable. Florida’s rules governing rental property usually allow tenants to move out if the landlord does not meet certain conditions. These rules can be found here.

If you have been keeping up your home, trying to work with your landlord or management company, and are still not seeing results for your mold problem–it may be time to move out. Some renters pursue legal action in order to get out of a rental agreement due to mold problems. Make sure you are following proper procedures so you are not legally/financially responsible for time left on the lease etc. This may be the time to call an attorney to help you.

For further information about mold, read about it on the Center for Disease Control’s site (the CDC) and the Florida Department of Health’s site. Mold growth can cause problems for anyone. But it especially causes problems for the elderly, children, and those who are allergic to it. Do not think you just have to live with a serious mold infestation in your rental property.

Image credit: Horia Varlan


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