When you see signs of a leak or potential mold be prompt about notifying your landlord. One reason for this is that you won’t be held liable for additional damage to the home you live in and most leases require this. Also, you will keep your self and family safer from being potentially exposed to the dangerous bacteria and mold that can grow. It also gives a notice to the landlord that something may be wrong and now the landlord will have the liability for this since the landlord has now been ‘notified’ of a potential situation and gives you more freedom to take additional action if needed. I say this in the optimal circumstance assuming your landlord will take needed action.
When I say additional action, I am referring to hiring a Mold Inspector yourself if the landlord has not taken any action to address your notification or has not taken sufficient action. Some landlords are transparent and cooperative and others are not. Some may try and ignore or hide what may be happening on a property. For example, the landlord may bring someone in to ‘check’ for possible leaks or mold but may not find anything, or at least that is what they say. Many times, the landlord does not bring in the right professional to do this. Or they may find and fix a leak but not address the wetness the leak has created and may leave it to ‘dry’ on its own.
If you feel sufficient action has not been taken to address the situation then you can hire someone to ‘address it‘ by having a ‘mold inspection’ done. You may be worried about the cost of that. If the inspection turns up elevated moisture where it should not be that the landlord has the obligation to fix, then you can take a rent credit for what you pay to have the inspection done. That is an example of what you can do under the ‘repair and deduct’ clause in Renter’s Rights and Responsibilities of California (pdf). Other states likely have similar rights.
You generally would attach the paid invoice to your rent check, so to speak and explain in writing why you did so. The landlord may not like it but it is California law for renters. Of course, by this time you would have already sent a copy of the inspection report to your landlord which should have recommendations in it to address any issues found. Depending on the situation you may need to have an attorney write a letter explaining this more clearly which can often times motivate the landlord to do what is needed.
If you need a connection to the attorney part then send me an email and I can send you that information to assist.
Steve Mullins (i.e. Mold Detector)
CMC, Certified Microbial Consultant
Moisture and Mold Detection, Inc.