Under the landlord-tenant laws of most states, landlords are subject to a legal doctrine called the "implied warranty of habitability," which makes the landlord responsible for keeping the rental property free of health hazards such as a mold infestation.
Because the implied warranty of habitability is an obligation imposed by state law -- whether the landlord likes it or not -- it overrides any language in your lease that is inconsistent with that responsibility. So be skeptical and persistent if your landlord denies responsibility for a mold infestation under the terms of your lease.
If your landlord is dragging his or her feet, you may be able to get action by contacting your local housing authority. If you are seeking compensation for an injury or damage to your personal property, however, you will likely need to take legal action. (To learn more about mold in rentals, read Nolo's article Mold in Rentals: Landlord Liability, Responsibility, and Prevention.)
If you have developed health problems because of a mold infestation at your place of work, you may be able to file a workers' compensation claim. Whether workers' compensation will cover your injuries -- and preclude you from taking your employer to court -- is an evolving area of the law and will depend on the particular circumstances of your case. (To learn more about worker's compensation, read Nolo's article Your Right to Worker's Comp Benefits FAQ.)
If you or your child has developed health problems because of a mold infestation in a school or other community building, the liability of the school or other responsible party raises a host of legal issues, especially if it is a public school or other government-run institution.
You may be able to get action by contacting the school administration, the local school board, or the local health department. To get compensation for you or your child's injuries, however, you may have to pursue a legal claim.
If you are dealing with a government agency, you may have to file an administrative claim before you can go to court. The administrative claim process varies from one government agency to another. Depending on the size and seriousness of your claim, you may benefit from the advice and assistance of a lawyer.
Before you jump into a lawsuit, do some research about the health risks associated with mold. Because the scientific explanations of mold are both complex and technical, numerous misconceptions have crept into the popular perception of toxic mold and its dangers. As a general matter, there is no federal "mold law." The specific laws that apply to your claim will depend on the particular state law governing your case. (To learn more about what we do and don't know about mold, read Nolo's articles Toxic Mold Basics and Health Risks of Mold Exposure.)
Because the science behind mold can be complex and proving a link between health problems and mold exposure may be difficult, you may want to consult a lawyer who is experienced in mold cases.
For help in choosing an appropriate attorney, read Nolo's article Finding a Personal Injury Lawyer. Or, use the tool below to access Nolo's Lawyer Directory to find personal injury attorneys in your geographical area.
For detailed information on the wide range of issues facing residential landlords, get Every Landlord's Legal Guide, by Janet Portman, Ralph Warner and Marcia Stewart (Nolo).
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