What does it take for the renter to win this type of case? Again, I am not a lawyer but I have been called to testify in these cases. Basically, you need an inspection report showing damp/wet conditions in the home and the presence of mold due to the lack of maintenance by the landlord. You also need the inspector who performed the inspection present at the hearing or you will lose the case. The court (or opposing side) will not accept a ‘mold inspection report’ without the inspector being present to validate the report.
You also need to show the applicable law and codes such as:
Senate Bill 655 that went into effect 1/2016 requires property owners to maintain their properties free from dampness and mold. Mold defined in this bill as ‘microorganisms or fungi’ which includes the dangerous bacteria that grows in these conditions.
Dampness is a nuisance.
Mold is a nuisance.
Under Civil Code Section 3479 a nuisance is defined as ‘anything which is injurious to health, … so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property…”This would include the presence of mold or other toxic substances….
The above is an example of what you may need. Many landlords will try to intimidate the tenant starting eviction proceedings hoping the tenant will simply leave and to get a judgment against them even if a ‘mold report’ is sent to them before the eviction starts. This can happen if the tenant does not know their rights or what to do.
However, once you get to the hearing and you have proof of ‘mold’ and the home possibly not being ‘habitable’ and the inspector present the landlord’s attorney will likely want to settle with you before the actual hearing and you can get more of what you want or need depending on your goal. Such as not paying back rent you stopped paying because the home had ‘mold’ or ‘damp’ conditions and you possibly getting sick in the process.
Steve Mullins (i.e. mold detector)
CMC, Certified Microbial Consultant
Moisture and Mold Detection, Inc.