Floridas Renters Rights and Mold…What You Need to Know!
An Experienced Overview of Florida Landlord/Tenant Laws Dealing With Mold Growth Inside Residential Properties
**MESSAGE FROM THE OWNER** This is something that I have dealt with personally (before I was in this business and maybe the reason I am). My 2 kids, Wife and I were excited to move into a beautiful new home. Little did we know that the AC had a leak for years that was never treated, problem was that it was in the vents where no one could see it. It wasn’t until my AC broke and an AC guy came out and opened up the unit that we realized how bad it really was (2 pictures below). My wife and kids were getting sick once a month at least, we all felt worn down, and our overall health was poor. Weird because we eat a very healthy diet.
Long story short, it was an uphill battle to remove the mold and it kept coming back. The landlord was in a river called “De Nile” that she had black mold and was failing to help beyond a $100 service call from the ac guys to spray something on it. I decided to move out within 7 months as this wasn’t gonna fly, my family is too important. Within 6 months the shady owner sold the house.
Mold is one of the most dangerous health hazards in the world. It develops and proliferates in warm, moist places – usually attics, basements or in poorly ventilated and high humidity buildings. Many people assume that these are the only places where mold grows but the reality is that mold can grow anywhere water has been allowed to collect.
For example, your home could have a leak behind the wall, and unless you see evidence of the leak immediately, it could go undetected and allow mold to grow. This is why everybody – from homeowner to landlord to renters – need to keep a close eye on their residence, office buildings and more to keep mold from developing and growing.
You can’t do anything legally if you “THINK” you have mold. You need to know that you have mold. Instead of having a service come out to test and have it cost you a few hundred dollars we recommend that you buy a Mold Test Kit that includes FREE Lab testing. Once you have a positive test for Black Mold your options are abundant, the test is admissible in court.
Florida Tenants Have Two Options To Treat Mold Infestation
State courts have acknowledged that tenants legally have two strategies in getting rid of their mold problem in a rental home.
First, they can withhold rent (stop paying their rent) under the claim that the mold has made the home inhabitable. Rent can be withheld regardless of what a written lease dictates, as landlords must adhere to the “implied warranty of habitability.” The “implied warranty of habitability” is a legal decree that stands they must provide tenants with a habitable residence (apartment, condo, house, etc.).
Second, they can use the “repair and deduct” strategy. With it, tenants can pay for the mold cleanup themselves and deduct the cost from their monthly rent.
Are Florida Landlords Liable For Mold Damage (Harm)
There is neither state nor federal laws on record that specific what landlords must do about mold development in their property. There is also nothing stipulating what they must do if mold is found in the home.
Tenants, however, can take their landlord to court to get compensation for losses they incurred – be it mold repairs, doctor bills, etc.) If a tenant can prove that the presence of high mold concentrate is the result of landlord negligence and the jury or judge agrees, the landlord may be held liable.
For instance, a local Orlando news channel conducted in an investigation of an apartment complex that revealed tenants were living in deplorable conditions – leaks and flooding, which led to mold growth. The reporters also found that the building had damaged electrical outlets, which could cause a fire. The landlord was fined $15,000 per day for the 31 violations of the city’s health and safety code.
Do Florida Landlords Need To Disclose Mold Before Renting A Unit?
There are no state statutes or laws that stipulate a landlord must inform prospective tenants about mold growth before renting the unit. There is a federal law that mandates landlords must disclose lead paint issues, but nothing regarding mold.
Landlords Can Deduct Repair Costs From Tenant Security Deposit
If a tenant is leaving your premises because of a mold problem (one they caused beyond the normal wear and tear), the cost to clean the home can be deducted from their security deposit.
However, according to Florida law Fla. State. Ann. 83.49, landlords must provide tenants written notice of the damage and cost to the unit within 30 days of the lease being
terminated. The tenant has 15 days to object the documentation. If they don’t, the remaining deposit money will be sent to the tenant within 30 days of the written explanation date.
What Landlords Can Do To Prevent and/or Get Rid of Mold
It’s imperative that landlords take all precautions they can to prevent mold development and proliferation. This means taking action to eliminate mold when it’s discovered.
NOTE: Once mold is known by the owner they must get rid of and combat the return even of that is a 2nd treatment.