Mold is a common issue in many homes and buildings, especially in humid climates like central and southern Florida. Mold can cause structural damage to buildings and health issues for those living or working in them.
Some people are more sensitive to mold than others, but exposure can lead to respiratory problems, skin irritation, and other health issues. This guide covers the laws surrounding mold in Florida can help both landlords and tenants navigate through some tricky issues.
Florida's Stance on Mold
Florida's mold protection laws are not as strong as those in states like California and Texas. However, there are two main sets of laws related to mold presence in Florida homes.
Tenants in Florida have the right to a habitable living environment. If a landlord fails to address a mold issue, tenants may have legal recourse.
The first set of laws is the general protections provided under Florida's landlord-tenant statutes, which are contained in Chapter 83, Part II, Florida Statutes.
For tenants, s. 83.51, Florida Statutes, requires that the landlord comply with the requirements of applicable building, housing, and health codes. If the premises are located in an area that doesn't have local building, housing, or health codes, then the landlord is required to maintain the structural components and plumbing in good repair and reasonable working condition.
The Role of Florida's Landlord-Tenant Law
Florida's Landlord-Tenant Law does not specifically mention mold. However, it does require landlords to maintain their properties in a condition fit for human habitation.
This includes addressing issues that make the property uninhabitable, including mold. Failure to do so can lead to legal consequences.
Florida Mold Disclosure in Real Estate Transactions
Under Florida statue Chapter 475, sellers are obligated to disclose any known issues that significantly impact the value of a home or property. This obligation holds true even if the buyer does not specifically inquire about potential defects.
However, this is a factor that lies beyond the buyer's control. If the seller is genuinely unaware of a problem, then they simply don't know. If a buyer doesn't ask, and the seller is oblivious to an issue, it's not possible to assign blame to either party. But, if the seller is aware of a problem, they are responsible for highlighting it during the inspection process.
Mold In Condominium Units
For Condominium Units, the condominium association is required to maintain the "common elements" of the association, which typically includes the walls and ceilings of the units (not including the paint or wall coverings). If the association is allowing mold to grow on the walls or ceilings, Chapter 718 in the Florida Statutes provides remedies to the condo owner which may require the association to remediate the mold.
Mold Remediation Regulation In Florida
The second set of laws, Chapter 468, Florida Statutes, requires that all persons conducting "mold assessments" or "mold remediation" maintain a specialty license with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).
This means that all persons who are hired to perform mold inspections, or assessments must have a specialty mold assessor's license. Similarly, all persons conducting "mold remediation" must maintain a speciality license with DBPR for mold remediation.
Therefore, if a landlord or condominium has brought in outside contractors into the dwelling to either inspect or remediate mold, they are required to carry a specialty license and an insurance policy with a minimum of one million dollars of liability coverage.
Preventing Mold: Tips and Tricks
Keep your living space clean and dry. Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners to control humidity levels.
Regularly inspect your properties for leaks or other sources of moisture. Address any issues promptly to prevent mold growth.
What are the health risks associated with mold exposure?
Mold exposure can lead to various health issues, including respiratory problems, skin irritation, and allergic reactions. In severe cases, it can lead to more serious conditions like asthma or lung infections.
What can tenants do if their landlord does not address a mold issue?
Tenants can potentially withhold rent, repair the issue and deduct the cost from the rent, or even sue the landlord for damages related to the mold issue.
When should I consult a lawyer about a mold issue?
If you're dealing with a serious mold issue and your landlord isn't taking action, or if you're a landlord and a tenant is accusing you of neglecting a mold issue, it may be time to consult a lawyer.