Mold is one of the biggest complaints among renters in California; however, until recently, there wasn’t much that they could do about the potentially dangerous conditions they faced in their apartments.
Now, a new state law deems that mold growth is a condition of substandard housing. Thanks to the new law, tenants have the ability to report mold issues in their apartments to the city, and the city can in turn demand that landlords make the necessary repairs and fine them if they fail to comply.
A tenant rights attorney, Marc Whitham, said that he receives calls related to mold growth on a regular basis. He noted that until recently, moving out of their mold-infested apartments was about all that they could do.
“There are areas like City Heights and Barrio Logan where there are many, many moldy properties,” said Whitham. The attorney also noted that landlords were free to tell residents who complained about mold growth that if they didn’t want to live in their apartments that they were free to move and that they would find someone else to take their place, and that’s exactly what they do – especially if they clean the mold down and paint over it.
Whitham stated that mold growth in apartments is particularly bad in low-income communities, but noted that he does see the issue in all income brackets. He also said that he has been the victim of mold growth himself.
“You’re not looking for every little defect under the sun and you might not notice that mold for several weeks or even months,” he said. “And by then, you might open up your closet and find all sorts of things are ruined, they’re just covered in mold.”
Exposure to indoor mold growth has been linked to triggering respiratory health problems, such as asthma. One tenant told a local news station that mold growth in her bathroom caused such severe asthma in her son that he had to go to the emergency room. She said that when she reported the problem to city code enforcement, an officer told her to research mold to figure out how to deal with it.
Holly Mitchell, a California Senator, wrote the new mold bill to adjust the Health and Human Safety Code that monitors housing conditions. The California Association of Code Enforcement Officers and a Regional Asthma Management and Prevention organization based in Oakland sponsored the bill. A statement from the California Department of Public Health that states visible mold and mold odor in homes increases the risk of respiratory issues was referenced in the bill.
A lack of formal guidelines that suggest how much mold is too much mold is part of the reason why tenants who are affected by mold have a difficult time trying to get damages in court.
Mold Inspection & Testing Los Angeles is a reputable mold assessment company that has performed many mold tests in the area. We strongly urge residents who believe mold is growing in their apartments to demand that landlords arrange for mold testing. To speak with an MI&T representative, call 424.652.8081.