Mold Disclosure Laws for Landlords in California
We all know the health hazards of mold. From worsening asthma, to sore throat and even skin rashes, mold exposure can have serious health impacts. Finding mold in your home can be scary. But what if you’re renting? Are landlords in California required by law to disclose mold infestations? If you’ve been living in your apartment for a while and you’ve just discovered mold, can you sue for health code violations? In today’s post, we’ll discuss the laws in California regarding mold disclosure, and the severity of a health code violation due to mold.
California Mold Disclosure Law
Does California law require landlords to disclose mold?
According to California Health and Safety Code § 26147, landlords are required to present tenants with a mold disclosure, in writing, before a lease is signed. Furthermore, according to a recommendation made in Sept 2011, even if there are underlying moisture issues, or just a moldy smell in the building, landlords are strongly encouraged to take immediate action to resolve the issue, including hiring a mold remediation company.
It’s worth noting that there is no federally mandated law regarding mold disclosure for landlords. The state of California recognizes that mold poses a serious health risk, and has therefore mandated it with state mold disclosure laws.
Is mold a health code violation in California?
Yes. When it, “endangers life, limb, health, property, safety, or welfare of [...] the building’s occupants,” mold is a health code violation. This determination must be made by a qualified health officer or code enforcement officer.
This does not apply to surface mold that accumulates through normal use of household facilities. For example, a moldy sink is not your landlord’s responsibility. Those duties fall on the tenant.
Can you sue your landlord for health code violations due to mold?
Technically yes, but only in cases of extreme misconduct. One such case happened in Santa Rosa, California in 2017. Mold in a senior living facility caused an asthmatic event in an elderly tenant, leaving her hospitalized. The landlord of the facility was unwilling to resolve the issue, and even threatened to evict tenants who complained about the poor state of the complex.
In California, tenants are required to present complaints regarding mold to their landlord in writing. Additionally, a reasonable amount of time must be allowed to address the problem. If the issue is not resolved, residents are encouraged to gather as much evidence as they can and bring it up with city officials. Law enforcement and other health officers can then charge the building’s owner with misconduct.
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Image used under creative commons license – commercial use (1/19/2021) Jean-Pierre Pellissier (Pixabay)