Toxic Torts

Toxic and Black Mold Liability for Homeowners and Landlords

Most states recognize a landlord's responsibility to keep your apartment in livable condition. The risks of breathing in toxic mold spores form the basis of one of the newest areas of personal injury lawsuits between landlords and tenants. However, experts have yet to establish a specific list of molds that are dangerous to people's health. Problems proving that an injury was a direct result of exposure to toxic mold have also made it difficult to pursue this type of case.

Landlords Have a Duty to Maintain and Repair

Most states impose a duty on landlords to keep rental units in livable condition. If mold develops in your apartment as a result of poor maintenance and you can prove it has affected your health, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against your landlord. However, proving the mold caused your health problems can be difficult.

Tenants Responsible for Mold Cannot Blame the Landlord

If the mold in your apartment can be linked to your own actions or negligence, you may not be successful in a suit against your landlord based on a duty to maintain and repair. Leaving windows open while it is raining, failing to allow the landlord access to the apartment for maintenance, improper use of equipment in the apartment that causes high humidity levels, and other circumstances caused by tenants can ultimately relieve the landlord of liability for mold.

Some States and Cities Have Passed Mold Laws

A handful of states, including California and New Jersey, have passed laws to establish acceptable levels of mold spores in indoor air. Certain cities, including New York City and San Francisco, have included mold in their department of health guidelines. If you live in these areas, your landlord has an increased responsibility for mold. You may be able to make a claim against the landlord for violating these specific laws, regulations, and guidelines.

Mold Disclaimers in Leases May Not be Valid

Some landlords may include a clause in the rental agreement that exempts them from liability for mold. It is not clear whether courts will uphold such a liability waiver. At least one court has held that this type of clause is against public policy. The validity of mold liability waivers in leases should be established in the futures, as more cases of mold litigation make their way through state court systems.

A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

The law surrounding personal injuries sustained from exposure to toxic mold is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a personal injury lawyer.

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