Consumer Alert: Suspect mold? Here’s what to do

Consumer Alert: Mold

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If you suspect mold, what are your rights as a renter?

This is something Consumer Investigative Reporter Deanna Dewberry has investigated extensively over the years.

There are more than 100,000 species of mold. It’s all around us, and the vast majority is not harmful.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says while there was lots of hoopla concerning so-called “black mold syndrome” two decades ago, it has not been scientifically proven.

The CDC says this: there are very reporters that toxigenic molds found inside homes can cause unique or rare health conditions such as pulmonary hemorrhage or memory loss.

These case reports are rare, and a causal link between the presence of the toxigenic mold and these conditions has not been proven.

Because most mold causes no harm, and the science regarding toxic mold is lacking, there are no federal or state laws that regulate mold in rental properties.

But scientists have proven that some folks are allergic to mold and can have severe respiratory symptoms or skin rashes.

Dewberry investigated a case earlier this year in which a mother and her two children lived above a very mold apartment.

One of her sons had breathing problems and the other had skin rashes, both of which she believed were caused by mold.

So even though we don’t have laws regarding mold, an expert with the law firm Tully Rinckey says we do have laws mandating that landlords provide a safe, healthy environment.

“Anytime someone in New York state rents an apartment building or house, there is the implied warranty of habitability, meaning that if there is the option for me to move into this place, I am at least given a reasonable assurance that this place is fit to live in. And I would characterize black mold as a deficiency. So in this situation, what I would typically advise my clients is if you suspect there’s black mold, you need to let your landlord know there’s black mold and you need to come and fix it,” attorney Ryan McCall said.

It’s important to note that often the problem that’s causing the mold growth is a clear code violation, like a heavy roof or bad pipes.

So if your landlord refuses to fix the problem, you have a right to withhold rent until the problem is repaired.

CDC facts about mold.