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Black mold and your landlord's responsibility

If you live in a rental house or apartment that has suffered water damage, you may be concerned about black mold growing in your home.

Mold occurs in places that are moist and warm and can spring up in areas that have flooded and never completely dried. Typically, you can find mold in the bathroom, basement, under the carpet or any other area that has been exposed to water.

If you have a mold problem in your rental, it is advisable to contact an attorney before you violate your rental agreement with the landlord.

Black mold

Black mold is a microscopic living organism that is so small it is invisible without a microscope. If there is enough mold that you can see it with the naked eye, then the mold has been growing and spreading for a significant amount of time.

You can usually find mold growing on drywall, wood, carpet, and other porous types of fabrics and materials. In order for mold to grow, it needs the right conditions, such as an area that has been wet for more than 48 hours. It occurs more commonly in humid environments.

Symptoms of exposure

If you and your family have been exposed to black mold, you may suffer from red itchy eyes, a sore throat, coughing, runny nose, congestion, other asthma-like symptoms and even skin rashes. If you are having these symptoms and they are not improving but instead continue to worsen, you are more than likely suffering from mold exposure.

Landlord liability

In North Carolina, landlords are bound by the "implied warranty of habitability," regardless of what is written in the lease agreement. This means that the landlord is legally obligated to provide tenants with apartments and homes in livable conditions.

In addition, North Carolina law requires that landlords fix any excessive standing water, sewage or other flooding problems caused by leaks or improper drainage.

Tenant options

While there is no federal law covering a landlord's responsibility concerning mold, most states recognize common strategies used by tenants. One option includes withholding rent until the home is made habitable again. The other option involves the tenant making the necessary repairs, then deducting the cost from the rent.

However, North Carolina's state law has not codified these and pursuing such strategies may cause problems for the tenant.

If you have been harmed by the presence of black mold in your home, you may be entitled to compensation from the landlord. For advice on fili ng a claim against your landlord for dereliction of duties, contact an attorney experienced with landlord-tenant litigation. 

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