Toxic mold in North Carolina: Remedies for homeowners and tenants

Mold in homes and rental properties can lead to illness, but remedies are available to homeowners and tenants.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports that inhaling airborne mold particles, fragments or spores can lead to "allergic illness, trigger asthma, cause respiratory infection, or may bring about toxic effects from certain chemicals in the mold cells." These toxic effects can include poisoning from mycotoxins, toxins within the mold cells. Due to the dangers of exposure mold, the agency recommends any mold growth should be remediated.

Remediation can be a costly and time consuming process. However, legal remedies may be available to assist homeowners and tenants that discover the presence of toxic mold within their homes or rental properties.

Legal remedies for homeowners and tenants facing toxic mold issues

Homeowners that have purchased their homes from builders may be able to claim a breach of implied warranty of habitability against the builder. This is particularly true if the home was built in such a way that water is leaking into the home, resulting in a moist area that promotes mold growth. A recent publication by the North Carolina Bar Association, a group of legal professionals from throughout the state, discussed this issue. Although the group notes that this form of protection is generally only available to recently constructed homes, mold problems that are discovered within a reasonable period of time are often covered.

Older homes may still have protection under homeowner’s insurance policies. Depending on the details of the policy, the insurance provider may cover the damage. Although polices may have provisions excluding coverage in instances of mold damage, these exclusions may be overcome.

Tenants may also be able to find protection through a breach of the implied warranty of habitability statute. In these instances, this warranty refers to an implied promise that the landlord will ensure the property provided to the tenant is suitable for the intended purpose. Landlords that violate this warranty can be required to make repairs. In situations involving mold, this could include removing the mold. If the landlord fails to do so, the tenant could withhold rent payments or sue for rent abetment or a reduction in the amount of rent owed.

Importance of legal counsel

Tenants and homeowners that find they are facing issues with toxic mold should know that remedies are available. An experienced toxic mold and environmental litigation attorney can review the details of your case and work to better ensure a more favorable outcome. This could include remediation, building restoration or other forms of compensation.