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Toxic mold in your apartment? Take action now

Whether you're dealing with constant respiratory symptoms and wondering if mold could be the root cause or you have already found some in your apartment, mold is not something any tenant wants to deal with. However, it's common in humid and poorly ventilated environments, such as bathrooms and basements, and knowing what your rights and obligations are as a tenant can help you if mold ends up being an issue.

What should you do if you find mold?

If you find mold in your apartment, it's important to have it tested quickly to see if it is toxic. Generally, the first step is to contact your landlord and let him know that you've found mold. Then he or she can get to work on having someone come test the premises. If the mold comes back as toxic, it will need to be removed by a professional. If the mold is severe, you may have to move out of the apartment temporarily while it is being treated. However, it's important not to move permanently until the residence has been treated. Otherwise, mold spores present on your furniture and belongings could transfer to your new place and create a mold problem there as well.

What rights do you have as a tenant?

As a tenant, you have the right to suitable living conditions that are mold free. You also have the right to have the mold inspection and removal performed in a timely manner once you have notified the landlord of the problem.

Who pays for the mold inspection and removal?

If you suspect the presence of mold in your apartment, you'll want to ensure a professional inspects the premises right away. Legally, your landlord is not obligated to arrange or pay for this inspection. Although he or she may be willing to do so after you report the problem, it is ultimately up to you as the tenant to prove it exists. If your apartment is found to have mold, however, the landlord is responsible for paying to remove it. Having mold removed falls under the obligation to provide a residence with living conditions suitable for the inhabitants. If you can demonstrate that your landlord was negligent in providing suitable living conditions, you may be able to secure reimbursement for the cost of inspection and any other damages caused by the presence of mold.

What do you do if your landlord won't cooperate?

If you've informed your landlord of the mold problem and he's not cooperating or is refusing to have the mold removed, the next step is talk with an attorney who has experience dealing with landlord/tenant issues. After an initial consultation where you can provide the attorney with the details of your situation, you'll have a better understanding of your legal options and next steps. In some situations, you may also be able to file a lawsuit against the landlord if the mold made you sick and you incurred medical expenses as a result. However, you have the burden of proving the existence of the mold and that it was the cause of the illnesses.

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