Unfortunately, there is currently no federal law covering a landlord’s responsibilities when it comes to mold. States as well as cities have there own guidelines and regulations on mold. As an Upstate NY Restoration Company we are dedicated to helping those affected by mold. However, New York doesn’t have any laws that specifically address a landlord’s duties or liability when it comes to mold prevention and remediation.
Also, If you own or manage a rental property in New York, a mold problem could present you with costly cleanup and repair bills as well as lawsuits from tenants regarding renters rights.
Below we will inform you on tenant rights and landlord responsibilities when it comes to mold in New York state rental properties, as well as some of our servicing counties.
Courts in New York have recognized two strategies that some tenants choose to pursue after finding mold in their apartment or rental home.
Rent Withholding: Rent withholding is when tenants decide to stop paying rent due to their apartment or home being inhabitable. Even if the landlord has a mold clause in the lease, the Warranty of Habitability presented in the NYSAG’s Tenants Guide redacts the clause. The Warranty of Habitability requires that tenants are residing in livable conditions.
Repair and Deduct: This involves tenants taking care of mold cleanup on their own or hiring a company, then deducting the cost from their rent.
Some landlords include clauses in the lease that would relieve them from any liability resulting from mold growth.
Furthermore, a landlord should try to prevent mold growth by making sure the property is well maintained. They should also Inform the tenant of proper ways to prevent mold growth. For ex. when using the shower, the exhaust fan should be on and left on for awhile afterwords.
However, if the situation is extreme the tenant has the right to go forward with the strategies shown above.
As a tenant, you are expected to clean the apartment and prevent any damage. Areas that may have high moisture levels, like bathrooms and kitchens, need extra care.
If you come across water leaks or water damage you should inform your landlord immediately. If the landlord does not act and resolve the problem you can call your local building department or code enforcement official. They can inspect your rental property for water damage or leaks.
There is no federal law covering a landlord’s responsibilities on mold. However, some states as well as some cities do have guidelines and regulations regarding mold.
New York City has taken steps to make it easier for tenants to report landlords for outstanding mold problems. The city has an online complaint form for tenants to report mold in their building. The tenants will then receive a service request number to track the city’s progress in responding.
According to the Broome County website, the Health Department does not look into mold complaints from residents. If the mold in the property is a potential result of structural defects in a building, you should contact your local code enforcement officer.
No regulations or standards for mold exist in Broome County. Broome County does not condemn moldy homes. Building owners cannot be forced to clean up mold infestations.
New York State building codes do apply to many of the water problems that lead to mold outbreaks. If underlying water issues are fixed, mold can be cleaned up.
Town, Village and City code enforcement units have the legal authority to implement building codes in their jurisdictions. If you think that there are water problems in your building, call your local code unit to schedule an inspection.
Examples of water problems that might violate building codes include leaking roofs, leaking pipes, leaking plumbing fixtures and poor ventilation.
The New York State Attorney General’s Office has rules on the habitability of rental property and what a tenant’s rights are with respect to issues like structural defects in a building and mold outbreaks. The telephone number for the local Attorney General’s Office is 607-721-8771.
If a tenant is receiving rental assistance, the government agency giving the assistance may have rules against mold being present.
Information above was referenced from the official Broome County NY website.
Within the NYSAG’s Tenants Guide, refer to section on Habitability and Repairs. The Warranty of Habitability states:
“…tenants have the right to a livable, safe and sanitary apartment. This is a right that is implied in every written or oral residential lease. Any lease provision that waives this right is contrary to public policy and is therefore void. The warranty of habitability also applies to co-operative apartments, but not to condominiums. Any uninhabitable condition caused by the tenant or persons under the tenant’s direction or control does not constitute a breach of the warranty of habitability. In such a case, it is the responsibility of the tenant to remedy the condition. .If a landlord breaches the warranty of habitability, the tenant may sue for a rent reduction. Alternatively, rent regulated tenants can also file a rent reduction complaint with DHCR. The tenant may also withhold rent, but in response, the landlord may sue the tenant for non-payment of rent. In such case, the tenant may countersue for breach of the warranty.”
Check out NYSAG’s Tenant’s Right Guide to learn more.