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.
Pro Tip: Civil lawsuits are based on assessing and recouping damages. If there are no damages, courts have no means of addressing your situation. This means, unfortunately, that an apathetic, stingy, or ill-tempered landlord is not grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. For tenants with a stubborn landlord, but no serious physical, emotional, or financial damages from the mold, a personal injury lawsuit isn’t likely the best course of action. This doesn’t mean you have no recourse, it just is not a lawsuit. If this describes you, call us to discuss your non-lawsuit-related options.
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.
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, we urge you to follow the 6 steps below.
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 hide the issues 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 you first found it and prior to any attempts at mold remediation.
Step 2: Test Your Mold
Hire a licensed mold assessor or mold inspector to come do a comprehensive inspection of your house, including taking air samples from throughout the house or apartment. The mold inspector should also take samples of any mold, which will be used to determine the type and concentration of any mold. In Florida, all mold inspectors are required to be licensed. If your inspector is not, call someone else.
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, it’s best to get professional legal advice before sending any notices.
Step 4: Track Your Damages
A court must believe your lawsuit can “right a wrong.” You have to prove that you suffered damages due to the landlord’s negligence (e.g. medical bills, moving costs or hotel bills, mold testing expenses, damage to your personal property). You need to keep detailed records of your sick days, medical bills, costs to replace personal property, receipts for other incurred expenses, and any emotional or non-financial harms.
Step 5: See a Medical Professional
Toxic mold is a health hazard above all else. Any mold liability claim will require expert testimony from a licensed medical doctor as to your medical condition. In the best-case scenario, you would see a medical specialist such as an allergist or pulmonologist, who has experience with mold exposure.
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 dealing with landlords and HOAs 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’ve been injured by a toxic mold infestation, contact us for a free consultation.
How Strong Is Your Injury Case?
Are you unsure if you have a legitimate case? Find out how strong your case is by taking our toxic mold injury quiz!
How a Toxic Mold 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:
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.
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.
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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