Attention all California landlords and renters! Beginning January 1, 2022, all residential landlords are required by law to present a copy of the booklet “Information on Dampness and Mold for Renters in California” to every potential renter before they enter into a rental or lease agreement.
What Does This Mean for Landlords and Renters?
By acting in accordance with this new law, a landlord significantly reduces their liability in the case of unforeseen mold issues within the rental. Because of the 2001 Toxic Mold Protection Act (HSC #26148), landlords are made less liable if full disclosure—of the presence of mold and active water intrusion issues—is made in writing to prospective tenants.
If a landlord harbors any knowledge of the presence of mold within a unit, but does not give prospects full disclosure, he or she is in direct violation of the Mold Act and could face significant legal responsibility in the future. Even if a prior tenant made mention or report, yet the landlord did not verify the claim before the tenant moved out, the landlord is legally obligated to inform prospective new tenants of a possible mold issue before they sign any agreement. However, the landlord is not required to conduct tests, either air or surface, of units or buildings to determine whether the presence of mold exists unless there is a claim by a current resident.
What Exactly is the Mold Booklet About?
The “Information on Dampness and Mold for Renters in California” booklet explains to prospective tenants the potential impacts on their health that could result from exposure to mold.
The following is a list of topics covered in the mold booklet:
Health Problems from Damp or Moldy Buildings
Signs of Dampness or Mold
Causes of Building Dampness that Can Allow Mold to Grow
Fixing Dampness and Mold Problems
To obtain a copy as a landlord, visit the Apartment Owners Association website and download it from the “forms” section.
What if My Landlord Does Not Give Me the Mold Booklet?
To avoid fraudulent claims of handing out (landlord) or not receiving (tenant) the booklet prior to the lease agreement, the AOA has updated all Rental Agreement and/or Lease forms (#101) to include the tenant’s acknowledgement of receipt of the mold booklet. This prevents false claims and accusations in the future from either party and ensures the fully-informed consent of the tenant. (Landlords, please note: a checkmark is required in the new box labeled “MOLD BOOKLET.”)
Why is California Only Now Requiring This Mold Booklet?
The “Information on Dampness and Mold for Renters in California” booklet is required by legislation that was passed in 2001 (SB 732, the Toxic Mold Protection Act) but not developed by the Department of Public Health until the close of 2021. There is no clearcut explanation as to why California legislation is only just now—21 years later—upholding the requirement. The booklet itself was not completed until 2020.
Do Other States Have a Similar Requirement?
Many states regularly hand out renter packets to new tenants that include information about mold and other scenarios, but not all states require that these packets be given to tenants prior to signing a rental agreement or lease. If you are not located in California, be sure to check your state’s particular legislature regarding mold and rental properties.
What if I Move in After Receiving the Mold Booklet and Soon Find Mold?
Should you find mold growth shortly after moving in or even later on, the landlord is still responsible for ensuring you have a habitable rental unit. What constitutes habitable is judged case by case, but do keep in mind that if mold growth or water damage leading to mold growth is discovered to stem from your action or inaction as a tenant, the sole responsibility of repairs and mold remediation will land on your shoulders. This is why the booklet is helpful in alerting you to the signs of dampness and mold growth before they become a problem or a point of litigation against you.
In an earlier article on MoldBlogger, titled, “How Long Does a Landlord Have to Fix A Mold Problem?,” the necessary steps to record and report a mold issue to a landlord are addressed. A related article concerning possible mold litigation is also available.
Where Can I Read More Information Regarding This Type of Legislature?
The California Legislative Information website provides a list of bills and acts concerning mold and rental property:
The April 16, 2001 Assembly Amendment to the February 6, 2001 AB-178 Housing Standards: Mold
The October 7, 2001 Act to Amend Section 1102.6 of the Civil Code – SB-732 Toxic Mold
The June 20, 2002 Assembly Amendment to the February 21, 2002’s SB-1763 Insurance: Mold Damage
As a landlord, be sure to check The California Legislative Information list of bills, acts, and amendments each year, as additions and changes made by the senate seem to be quite frequent.
Whether you’re a California-based landlord or renter, it’s important to stay up-to-date on issues and changes within your state’s legislature regarding mold and rental properties. By remaining in-the-know, you can ensure that you avoid any messy litigation claims in the future from your renters or your landlords.
MoldBlogger has several resources for mold victims, including a helpful local directory of attorneys, doctors, and remediation specialists. Unfortunately, as of January 2022, the list is short and we’re looking to promote and share more professionals and resources for our readers. If you are an attorney, doctor, or remediation specialist—in any part of the U.S.—we would be very pleased to share your contact information in our Local Directory tab, so that our readers can receive the help they need to deal with their mold and mold litigation issues.
For more information regarding mold, mold prevention, and mold solutions, please check out the rest of MoldBlogger.com.
Article by Amanda Demsky from the MoldBlogger team.