Dec 16, 2021

A Catch 22 for Renters

A Catch 22 for Renters……….Read the lease before signing.

I recently found out that some landlords may put a clause in the rental agreement like this; ‘No inspections of any type are allowed unless authorized by the owner (or management).’

This is particularly noteworthy especially when it comes to getting a ‘Mold Inspection’ as most people will call it. In talking with my consulting attorney today about this type of clause it means that the tenant agreed to waive their right to be able to do this without approval from the owner/manager of the property. Without that clause, in the agreement, a renter can bring an inspector in for any number of reasons as long as no changes or damages are made to the property during the inspection.

Let’s say you suspect mold in your rental unit, as an example, and you want to have it inspected for potential mold/moisture issues. There is a basic problem here. You can ask your landlord to have it done (assuming they agree to it) but the landlord is not compelled by law in California to disclose what the inspection turned up unless they are served with a subpoena by you in a court case and it involves your health. Of course, the landlord has the obligation by law to maintain the property free of ‘dampness and mold’ per senate bill 655 that went into effect 1/1/2016. Mold is defined as ‘micro-organisms or fungi’ as the bill wording states which includes harmful bacteria that will grow from dampness along with mold in just a few days.

If a renter hires an inspector to look for mold and moisture (dampness) issues such as myself then I will tell you everything you need to know and how to fix/address it and if it is healthy to stay in the property. If I find issues that the landlord is obligated to fix I will tell you and it will be in the detailed report I provide. That report, along with my testimony, will hold up in court. With the highest credentials in the industry for evaluating water damage and mold issues as a CMC (Certified Microbial Consultant), I am the best person to perform these inspections. My report can serve as a more authoritative and official notice that you have a moisture or mold issue.

However, if the landlord hires me I cannot discuss the results of the inspection unless the owner allows me to, which only happens some of the time, at best.

To clarify the point of this blog post is to remind you, the prospective tenant, to read the entire lease before you sign it to make sure there are no restrictions on your right to hire an inspector to check your property for potential mold/moisture issues and to confirm if it meets California codes for health and safety in regards to these issues. BTW, if I find an issue that the landlord is obligated to fix that is in violation of the law, such as senate bill 655, then you can get a rent credit for what you pay for the inspection. Of course, the landlord may not like that, but it is part of Renter’s Rights and Responsibilities of California under the ‘Repair and Deduct’ clause. You will want to read that to be familiar with your rights and what is required of you, the tenant. That’s all for now.

Steve Mullins (i.e. mold detector)

CMC (Certified Microbial Consultant) #2008028

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