Black Mold In Your Apartment: Know Your Legal Rights

By: ROS Team

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Finding anything in your apartment that shouldn’t belong is bound to trigger anger and frustration.  Finding black mold in your rental would undoubtedly be no exception.

Whose responsibility is it to address it?  Your worries are legitimate since black mold is a health hazard.  Holding your landlord responsible for getting rid of it might be the best way to address the issue.

Here’s some insight to better understand your rights as the tenant when it comes to addressing black mold in rental property apartments.

Black Mold is a Health Hazard

Technically known as Stachybotrys chartarum, black mold poses a serious threat to human health by causing respiratory problems, mental impairment, skin inflammation, and internal organ damage.

Black mold thrives in moist, dark places that have poor air circulation like between walls or beneath floorboards.  That means it can go unnoticed until it’s too late.

Black Mold and Warranty of Habitability

Fundamental tenants’ rights are included in the “warranty of habitability,” which says, in part, that tenants have the right to rent a property that meets basic living and safety standards.

That means the landlord is responsible for ensuring the units they oversee provide such an environment.  This guarantee, or warranty, is extended to tenants not only at the time they sign the lease but remains in effect through the duration of the tenant’s occupancy.

Who is Responsible for Mold in a Rental Apartment

When it comes to mold, there are no well-defined boundaries for individual mold tolerance. Very few states have regulations in place that define what level of mold, if any, is acceptable in homes. Visit the health department’s website for your state to learn more.

Not having regulations doesn’t mean you no longer have the right to live in a mold-free environment.  Just by the nature of the tenant-landlord relationship, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to address and fix plumbing issues if doing so is outlined in the lease.

If you feel mold is growing because of a water leak due to a pipe that was your landlord’s responsibility to fix. Your landlord can be held accountable for addressing and correcting the mold problem.

You might be entitled to withhold future rent payments until the landlord fixes the issue.  You might even have a legitimate legal claim against your landlord if their negligence led to the presence of the mold in the first place.  Don’t withhold rent, however, until after you’ve sought consultation from an attorney.


Is Black Mold Growing due to your Negligence?

Keep in mind that you cannot blame the landlord for your mold problem if it’s growing because of something you’ve done or neglected to do. If the apartment isn’t properly ventilated to help eliminate humidity. If you don’t perform proper cleaning then you may have trouble filing a lawsuit against the landlord.

This is because tenants have certain obligations when they rent an apartment, and not doing your part doesn’t make the landlord responsible.  To avoid such situations, make sure you do what you can to limit mold growth by ensuring air can easily move through and that the apartment stays clean and free of standing water.

How to Deal with Black Mold in a Rental Property

  • Step 1 — Notify the Landlord

When you discover mold in your apartment, filing for an apartment mold lawsuit should not be your first step. Instead, you should contact the landlord or send him/her a notice immediately letting them know what you found.  Due to the warranty of habitability, your landlord is responsible for removing the mold and should compensate you if you suffer any health problems from being exposed.

Chances are your landlord will react quickly and get the black mold removed. If the landlord shows reluctance in fixing the issue and you are convinced that it is not due to your negligence, you may consider pursuing a legal claim against the landlord.

Pursue Legal

  • Step 2 — Pursue Legal Action

Filing a lawsuit should be your next move if the landlord refuses to address your mold issue.  Depending on your loss (personal or property) you should be fairly compensated.  It may be necessary to file in small claims court if the amount of damages falls under a certain threshold.  You’ll need to research the damage threshold in your state to determine what qualifies as a small claims case.

Potential Mold Damage

Although the exact compensation will be determined by your unique circumstances. You can seek compensation or reimbursement of expenses if the black mold in your apartment caused any of the following:

  • Personal injury;
  • Loss of work due to illness or because of time spent removing mold;
  • Damage to your personal property due to mold contamination; or
  • Pain or suffering.

Mold Damage


Is Black Mold the Landlord’s Responsibility?

In most cases, it is the landlord’s responsibility to address black mold in an apartment. Landlords have a legal obligation to provide tenants with a safe and habitable living environment, and this includes addressing issues such as black mold.

Can I Refuse to Pay Rent if there is Mold?

In most cases, tenants cannot refuse to pay rent due to mold unless it has been determined by a qualified professional that the mold is making the property uninhabitable. It is best to work with the landlord to address the issue and seek legal advice, if necessary.

Can I Sue my Landlord for Mold Poisoning?

It may be possible to sue a landlord for mold poisoning if it can be proven that the landlord was aware of the mold and failed to take action to remediate it.

Is black Mold the Tenants’ Fault?

Black mold is not always the tenant’s fault. It can be caused by a variety of factors, such as structural issues, poor ventilation, or moisture problems. However, in some cases, tenant behaviour such as not cleaning regularly or failing to properly ventilate the property can contribute to the growth of black mold.

What Illness does Black Mold Cause?

Exposure to black mold can cause various health problems, such as allergic reactions, respiratory issues, headaches, dizziness, and other symptoms. In severe cases, it can lead to more serious health conditions such as lung infections and even neurological problems.

What are the Signs of Mold Sickness?

Signs of mold sickness can include a variety of symptoms, such as: Respiratory problems such as coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing Nasal and sinus congestion, Eye irritation and redness, Skin rash or irritation, Headaches and migraines Fatigue and weakness, Memory problems and difficulty concentrating, Mood changes such as anxiety and depression

What Should I do if I Suspect there is Black Mold in my Apartment?

If you suspect there is black mold in your apartment, you should immediately notify your landlord or property manager in writing. Take photos of the mold and document any health issues you are experiencing. You may also want to consider contacting a professional mold inspector to confirm the presence of mold.

What are my Legal Rights if my Landlord does not Address the Black Mold?

If your landlord does not address the black mold, you may have legal rights to take action. This can include withholding rent until the issue is resolved, hiring a professional to address the mold and deducting the cost from your rent, or breaking your lease and moving out.

How can I Prevent Black Mold from Growing in my Apartment?

To prevent black mold from growing in your apartment, you should address any moisture issues, such as leaks or humidity, promptly. Clean and dry any surfaces that become wet or damp as soon as possible, and use exhaust fans or open windows to improve ventilation.


It may take some time for black mold to become noticeable, but once you see it please take it seriously.  It is dangerous and, with long-term exposure, it can cause serious and lasting health issues and also permanently damage property.

If you believe you have been exposed to or have suffered from health issues because of black mold exposure and the landlord is reluctant to address the issue, consider filing a lawsuit.

Consult with an attorney to discuss the laws relevant to your set of circumstances and explore the best way to resolve the issue.

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