Renter’s Rights and Landlord Liability

Does your rental unit have mold or water damage? If your landlord is failing to provide safe and habitable housing, a Florida mold lawyer can help you.

Mold Is More than an Eyesore

Mold is an environmental hazard that is a serious cause for concern among tenants in Florida. The state’s hot, humid climate provides a prime breeding ground for mold especially in damp walls, paint, fabric, or ceiling tiles.

Long-term exposure to toxic mold can lead to significant health problems, such as rashes, chronic fatigue, nausea, cognitive losses, hemorrhaging, and asthma. Despite the health risks, many landlords, condo associations, and insurance companies do not take the hazards of exposure to toxic molds seriously.

When Is Mold a Problem?

There is a seemingly endless list of mold species, all with long and difficult-to-pronounce names. They come in various colors and shapes and textures. Some smell horrible. Some stain common areas like sinks and showers. Others proliferate silently in ceilings and walls, beneath floorboards, or in less accessible spots like AC ducts and crawlspaces.

Fortunately, however, most molds are harmless to humans even if they are quite ugly to look at. The bigger problem is that there’s no easy way to tell the harmless molds from the harmful molds. Also, there’s no guarantee that you will see a mold at all; molds require a water source to thrive, and that water source may be fed by a broken pipe or leaky roof, which you are unlikely to find.

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Renter’s Rights to Safe and Livable Housing

Currently, there are no federal mold laws, and Florida doesn’t have specific mold laws either. Regardless, landlords still have a responsibility to provide safe and livable housing to tenants.

The specific requirements will vary by state, but in most places landlords meet the so-called “implied warranty of habit­ability” obligation by:

  • Keeping the basic structural elements of the building (e.g. floors, stairs, walls, and roofs) safe and intact,
  • Ensuring common areas, such as hallways and stairways, are safe and clean,
  • Keeping electrical, plumbing, ventilation, heating and air-conditioning systems, and elevators operating safely,
  • Supplying hot and cold running water and heat in reasonable amounts at reasonable times,
  • Mitigating known environmental hazards such as lead paint and asbestos,
  • Taking reasonable measures to prevent foreseeable criminal intrusions, and
  • Exterminating rodents and other vermin (e.g. bed bugs).

Mold Laws in Florida’s Landlord-Tenant Act

In particular, Florida’s Landlord-Tenant Act (83.51, Fl. Statutes) outlines the minimum standards that Florida landlords must maintain when renting property to tenants. Landlords must comply with applicable building, housing, and health codes, and they must:

maintain the roofs, windows, doors, floors, steps, porches, exterior walls, foundations, and all other structural components in good repair and capable of resisting normal forces and loads and the plumbing in reasonable working condition.

The rest of the statute incorporates other aspects of the implied warranty of habit­ability.

 

What to Do If You Have a Mold Problem

Precisely because of the lack of regulation and legislation around mold, and because determining whether a particular species of mold is toxic or not requires a trained scientific assessment, mold liability cases must be handled very carefully.

If you believe that there is a mold problem in your apartment, home, condo, or rental unit, it is critical that you follow the steps below in order to properly preserve and document your claim.

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Step 1: Document Everything

Gather photographic evidence of any water damage and other conditions causing the mold on the property, as well as the mold itself. The landlord or condo association may attempt to cover up the evidence if they learn you are considering bringing a lawsuit. Thus, it is important to have photographic evidence of the mold and water damage as it existed when the mold was first discovered and prior to any mold remediation being done.

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Step 2: Test Your Mold

Hire a licensed mold assessor or mold inspector to come do a comprehensive inspection of your house, including taking an air sample in each room where the presence of mold is suspected. The mold assessor should also take a sample of any visible mold to verify the type of mold and the spore concentration. In Florida, all mold inspectors are required to be licensed. If your inspector is not, call someone else.

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Step 3: Give Written Notice

It is absolutely critical to notify the landlord or condo association in writing as early as possible about the mold problem. Legally, if the party hasn’t (or can claim that they aren’t) aware of the issue, then they cannot be held legally liable for your damages. Because so much of your claim relies on your written notice complying with the law, we can assist you in drafting your notice to ensure that it is legally sufficient.  

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Step 4: Track Your Damages

If a court doesn’t believe your lawsuit can “right a wrong,” you risk having the lawsuit thrown out. You must prove to the court that the landlord’s negligence caused financial losses, such as moving costs, mold testing expenses, damage to your personal property, hotel bills, medical bills. You need to keep detailed records of your sick days, medical bills, receipts for other incurred expenses, and for any personal property that was damaged.

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Step 5: See a Medical Professional

Toxic mold is a health hazard above all else. Any mold liability claim will need to be supported by expert testimony from a licensed physician as to your medical condition. In the best-case scenario, you would see a physician who has experience with mold exposure. Other doctors that often treat and assess mold injuries include allergists, pulmonologists, and toxicologists.

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Step 6: Call the Personal Injury & Accident Law Center!

After you’ve seen to your health and the health of your loved ones, you should call us here at the Personal Injury & Accident Law Center. We have experience in dealing with landlords and condo associations who want to deny you the right to live in a safe and habitable environment. We will advocate for you against the insurance companies and these other organizations to ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to. If you believe you have been exposed to toxic mold, contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal rights.

How a Renter’s Rights Lawyer Can Solve Your Mold Problem

If you are here, chances are that you or someone you care about is dealing with a severe toxic mold problem in their rental unit or home. It’s also likely that the landlord is refusing to deal with the situation properly and that the mold infestation is causing medical problems for those who are being exposed.

We want to educate you about your legal issue and show you how critical it is to seek out qualified representation. Without a dedicated mold lawyer on your side, renters often do not recover the full amount of damages to which they are entitled. When thinking about hiring a South Florida lawyer for your mold claim, keep a few points in mind:

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The landlord’s usual bag of tricks is ineffective on a legal expert

By hiring a mold lawyer, you force the landlord to deal with an experienced legal professional who won’t be coerced or fooled into taking a low-ball offer. You will significantly increase your chances of recovering just compensation and of achieving a favorable resolution to your case.

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Insurance companies see it as their job to avoid paying you

 They have teams of highly trained adjusters and lawyers—and very deep pockets—all focused on keeping your claim as small as possible. You need someone in your corner, who also has experience and training, to take on the insurance companies.

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Your peace of mind is critical for recovery

You are suffering from exposure to toxic mold, and worrying about filing deadlines, expert testimony, and responding to insurance companies is only going to make your recovery take longer. Having a renter’s rights and mold lawyer represent you means that you aren’t filing motions, taking statements, or conducting depositions. You can focus on recovering from your physical injuries and getting on with your life.

If your rental unit or home has water or mold damage and your landlord isn’t addressing the issue, you need to seek out an experienced Florida mold lawyer who will guide you through the claims process. The landlord and insurance company will have attorneys and insurance adjusters on their side to protect their interests—so should you.

The mold lawyers here at Personal Injury & Accident Law Center would love to speak to you about your case and tell you how we can help you get on the path to recovery. Call us today at (561)372-3800 to schedule a free case evaluation or fill out the confidential form below and a team member will contact you soon.

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