Crawl space mold (C) D Friedman Rental Unit Health, Safety & Mold FAQs
Q&A on Health Department Tenant Aid

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FAQs about Health department role in moldy rental apartments or offices:

Questions & answers about how a tenant might get help if a rental home or apartment is unsafe or un-healthy to occupy and if the landlord does not respond to notice of these conditions? Frequently asked questions & answers.

This article series discusses whether or not a tenant should call their local health department officials about a known or suspected health & safety concerns such as a moldy rental apartment, home, or office, how building owners and managers can be expected to react to health department involvement, and when such a call is probably justified.

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FAQs on Help for Tenants of Unsafe or Un-Healthy Rental Apartments or Homes

This apartment was posted as condemned by a local health departmentRecently posted questions by renters about dealing with indoor environmental health and safety concerns - these were posted originally at HEALTH DEPARTMENT HELP for RENTERS - topic home.

On 2017-08-19 by (mod) - Ethical Questions about Getting your Dog in Rent-Free as a "therapy dog"

Thanks for your comments, Anon. Your experience and complaint about the imbalance of power between tenant and landlord is certainly one that is voiced alot.

About your Therapy Dog, let's think about service dogs a moment: my big sister used to remind me that two wrongs don't make a right.

Kwame Anthony Appiah, writing as "The Ethicist" for the NY Times (30 November 2016) put the issue this way:

Given the needs of the genuinely disabled, there’s good reason to have a presumption in favor of allowing service animals. But people who abuse the privilege are breaking a fundamental social principle: They’re taking unfair advantage of the compliance of others. In doing so, they undermine the legitimacy of the system.

As more and more people take advantage, genuinely disabled people with real service animals will face increasing skepticism. ... And support for the statutory accommodations may wane - The New York Times, The Ethicist, 30 Nov. 2016

You might want to have a copy of the ADA statement on service animals - see

People who are disabled and need a service dog can but hope that as others take advantage of the therapy-dog label to skirt rules and to enjoy the ease of taking their dog places that otherwise are difficult or prohibited, they must hope that the result doesn't ultimately lead to doing away with that certification or restricting it severely, or for people who make casual use of the service dog vest and label, that those don't face fines.

The following excerpt is from The Hidden Complications of Fake Service Dogs

First, per U.S. federal law and the ADA, Service Dog handlers must be disabled. Service Dogs perform tasks that their disabled owners would otherwise have difficulty completing on their own. If you do not have a disability, then you do not qualify for a Service Dog. Period. End of story. Full stop. There are no exceptions.

By expressing a desire for a Service Dog, you’re also wishing for the accompanying disability. For a disabled person, hearing an able-bodied person openly wish for a disability (even if you don’t actually say those words) is deeply hurtful.

It suggests you don’t take them or their disability seriously and furthermore, it makes light of the thousands of hours of training and socialization their partner has undergone to perform his job. - retrieved 2017/08/18 original source:

Also see

Herzog, Harold. "Service Animal Scams: A Growing Problem." (2014) can be read at

The U.S. Department of Justice provides information on service dogs is at

On 2017-08-19 by Anonymous- tenants usually get the short end of the stick

It seems to me, tenants usually get the short end of the stick when renting. From Outrageous security deposits that you never see again, to added "ista" or water/sewer/trash fees that are billed to you each month. I'm not talking about DMV and gas bills. There is also the new standard "pet rent" each month if you have one, as well as the pet deposit you have to pay with your regular deposit.....I have yet to receive a deposit back after moving out, in all my years of renting. This would be understandable if I had left the apartment in bad condition but I have never done so,

Obviously if you're renting you probably are doing so because buying a house is too expensive, therefore having to seek legal counsel to help with getting your deposit back or with mold or unsafe living conditions is quite expensive and in the long run most people are too busy or don't have enough money and time to pursue their rights legally…

I now claim my animal as a therapy pet. It is a one time fee to do this and is a lot less expensive than having to pay rent for the animal each month etc, as they cannot charge you for a therapy animal.

On 2017-08-19 by (mod) - My kitchen ceiling is collapsing

You may have no choice but to ask for help from your health and building department. Include written notification to your landlord showing photos and text describing conditions you consider unsafe and unhealthy.

On 2017-08-19 by Anonymous

I live in Baltimore. My kitchen ceiling is collapsing due to weather damage and mold. My landlord doesn't care and won't fix the problem... with every rain the condition gets worse and I'm pretty sure he has paid off city inspectors, as my apt just passed a city inspection.... which is absolutely unbelievable. Do I contact the health dept?

On 2017-08-14 2 by Anonymous

Owners will not fix the problem!!
Harbor Club South apartmentside
36000 Jefferson apt B208
Harrison Twp,Michigan

On 2017-08-14 by Patricia Burlick

Gasses and heating/dryer fumes coming in my apartment window and door wall

On 2017-07-18 by (mod) - as a last resort you may have to call your health department for assistance with mold or other unhealthy indoor conditions

I suggest calling your health department

On 2017-07-17 by Lena vigil

I live in a dupext that has mold 3 feet up my walls can I get some one to come out

On 2017-06-30 by Nicole

I had called them Tennessee a there is no law and I had a premature daughter that had a heart condition have been living here for 10 months now

I've been trying to move but cannot find a place to move into stuck where we're at he did fix the roof leak that have been there since February he fixed less than a month ago do you know any information in Tennessee where I can get free quality of air testing and mold testing I do not have the budget to be able to do the test

On 2017-06-20 1 by Maddy

So i have mould in my bathroom... Looks like it was covered up by previous landlord. Now its exposed

. I have 2 small children and they were supposed to fix this a month ago and just keep coming up with excuses. Its been six weeks.... What can I do about getting someone in to make sure they do it and do it properly

On 2017-06-07 by (mod) - apartment is infested with roaches


If you have thoroughly cleaned your home and removed all open food, and have made double sure that any stored food is in closed, secure containers, you've removed the roach-attractants over which you have control.

I have seen roach infestations in walls and coming out of openings in apartments that were immaculate; for those a professional exterminator is an effective step but in my OPINION if neighbors don't clean and secure food the same as you, it's difficult to control the roach problem without regular treatments of all of the spaces by a licensed professional.

You can ask for help from your health department.

If you want to break your lease, you need to review the lease terms with an attorney or with a legal aid service first.

On 2017-06-07 by Liz

What do i do if my apartment is infested with roaches and they've already sprayed the apartment 3 times and still no luck its gotten worst since i can eat have food in the house!!?? Help please i just want out of my lease .

On 2017-04-24 by (mod) - Can we legally get our landlord to pay for moving expenses and damaged property due to mold

That is a fair question, but not one that I can answer. You'll need to ask an attorney. Bring a copy of your lease to that attorney when you ask.

On 2017-04-23 0 by Nancy Stockholm

Can we legally get our landlord to pay for moving expenses and damaged property due to mold we he tells us we have to move out of our recent trailer to another one

He has known about mold in here for atleast 8 months maybe longer

On 2017-04-12 by (mod) - when is expert mold cleanup needed for a rental apartment?


IF the total area of mold contamination in your home is more than 30 sq.ft. of contiguous mold in area then professional cleaning would be needed AND cleaning of contents might be needed in the process of moving if you do need to move. You'll need to review the terms of your lease with an attorney.

On 2017-04-12 by kim

i have mold on walls n basement windows in my apartment how do i get out of my lease

On 2017-04-12 0 by (mod) - a failing structure is unsafe


Fundamental structural support to prevent the home from moving is absolutely essential for safety: pulling a wire or gas line or sewer line can be dangerous, even worse, causing fire or injury.

Unfortunately if the property owner won't agree to fix very basic structural and safety concerns that are clearly ones requiring an expert, you may have no choice but to take your lease to an attorney for a consult to find out just what the lease provides. Landlords, depending on where you live, may not required to do much by way of maintenance, but most leases require that the property being rented be safe and habitable. From what you describe it sounds to me as if yours is not.

On 2017-04-11 by Anonymous

I live in a mobile home...when we moved in lanlord told us we had to fix whatever minor things needed to be fixed....

well only thing is our trailer is unstable is constantly shiffting and in one of the bedrooms the floor has a hole i don't know what I need to be done and she's constantly charging late fees and extra on our rent I just need some kind of advice on how to handle this..

On 2017-02-18 by (mod) - when to ask for intervention by your building department or health department


If your landlord does not respond to building damage, health, and safety concerns for what you describe as a home that cannot be safely lived-in, you will probably have to ask for help from your local health department or from an attorney. Check out the advice in the article above and let me know what further questions you have.

On 2017-02-18 by Anonymous

I noticed a rusty colour in the hot water and contacted agent plumbing guy came out and basically said its stuffed but it may fully break in a week or 6 months and told the landlord to get a new system put in. They never did anything until I was away got home roof caved in water. Every where now mould is growing.

Assessors came out both said that the property is unliveable We have kept paying full rent, leaving messages to estate agent and sometimes days to get back all in all we don't know what to do PLEASE HELP

On 2017-02-18 by (mod) - what to do after the roof caved in and the home has been flooded and become moldy


If your landlord does not respond to building damage, health, and safety concerns for what you describe as a home that cannot be safely lived-in, you will probably have to ask for help from your local health department or from an attorney. Check out the advice in the article above and let me know what further questions you have.

On 2017-02-18 by Anonymous

I noticed a rusty colour in the hot water and contacted agent plumbing guy came out and basically said its stuffed but it may fully break in a week or 6 months and told the landlord to get a new system put in. They never did anything until I was away got home roof caved in water.

Every where now mould is growing. Assessors came out both said that the property is unliveable We have kept paying full rent, leaving messages to estate agent and sometimes days to get back all in all we don't know what to do PLEASE HELP

On 2016-03-31 by (mod) If there is more than 30 sq.ft. of contiguous indoor mold in your home


If there is more than 30 sq.ft. of contiguous indoor mold in your home

1. it requires professional cleaning

2. it is most-likely not a healthy environment

If the landlord is not responding to a probably or known-unsafe condition, in the article lilnks just above see TENANT HELP for MOLDY RENTAL

On 2016-03-31 by Anonymous

I am a renter and have told and showen the landlord the leaks and mold in the basement.He keeps saying in the spring or clean up the room and he will take care of it and never dose.

Have no extra money to put in this house that l rent.What can l do now?

On 2016-01-16 2 6 by (mod)

Anon, my best suggestions are in HEALTH DEPARTMENT HELP for RENTERS. Perhaps you should ask your health department to inspect your home and give you advice on whether it is safe to occupy.

On 2016-01-16 by Anonymous

The house Iam living in the floors are seperating from the walls there is black mold on all the walls all the time the roof leaks the is suage drainage under the house we have said somethinfg to the land lord an he informed us that if he fixes the hpuse he will be rasing our rent up.

what can we do because we live on a fixwd income of 1082 a month now an pay him 350 a month as it is. we are 75. 00 behind because of medical reasons but are trying to get that caught up.

On 2015-11-14 by (mod)

Certainly I agree with the cleaning company. You'll need to ask for help from your health department

On 2015-11-13 by Anonymous

The septic tank in our rental house has backed up into the basement, as far as I can tell no solids have come thru yet but the cleaning crew has informed me that normally they would remove any carpet or drywall that has been soaked but the homeowners insurance doesn't cover this so the homeowner asked them to just clean the area.

I'd like to know what the laws pertaining to this are and if just cleaning the carpet and drywall is enough to sanitize the area. The backup has been going on almost a week before the real problem was discovered and the entire house has smelled like suage for 3 days now.

I have bad lungs and am worried about the health effects. Thank you

On 2015-11-04 by (mod)


Please take a look at the article suggstions at HEALTH DEPARTMENT HELP for RENTERS and at the end of that article, as those form my best advice, particularly about notifying in-writing and if necessary involving local health or code officials.

Separeately, no honest expert could nor would pretend she could diagnose and prescribe exactly what is needed in the apartment based on a brief e-text/.

On 2015-11-03 by Elaine Carrillo

This is an urgent plea for advice/action: My 19 year old daughter and her 20 year old room-mate are living in a mold-infested apartment in quite a nice area of Houston (Winrock/Westheimer). From the day they moved in (late May 2015) anytime it rains they have had to deal with water coming in through the closets.

The management has been impossible to deal with. They made one lame effort to fix the damage about a month ago but as evidenced by recent rains, it did absolutely no good. A few days ago it flooded again and now the management is ignoring their pleas for clean-up/repair.

These young renters are being completely ignored. I want to help them resolve this issue and am very concerned about their health, but I need advice/action to address this problem immediately. The tenants have already had mold samples tested and the results were positive. PLEASE HELP US!

On 2015-03-13 by (mod) there is mold black mold all over the walls

In my opinion if your description is accurate, the apartment was probably unsafe and you should not have stayed in it.

Whether or not the landlord was obligated to give you another apartment may depend on rental
Was where you live, your lease terms, and so on advice of an attorney.

The article above has some suggestions for action.

On 2015-03-12 by Anonymous

i have recently moved into an apt and there is mold black mold all over the walls so i went to the lanlord and three days later i received a eviction notice what can i do in spokane wa


(Apr 24, 2014) Anonymous said:

I live in a trailer that has rats bad they have eaten wholes through the walls and through my furniture that isn't even paid for the smoke alarms don't work and if u leave a cup of maybe juice out for a full day on the table mold grows on it


Anon: if the landlord is not helping with site cleanup and providing professional rat exterminator services it may be appropriate to ask your health department for help.


(May 21, 2014) Anonymous said:

Hi,i leave in over 130 year old house. we have had roof leak as parts of ceiling became wet. landlord fixed the leak and said the ceiling and loft will dry out. i just noticed lots of black spots coming thru the ceiling. landlord said just paint them over with anti damp paint.

my son has got asthma and is damp,dast wondering if i should leave it and the damp will go away cos is no more leak or there will be still damp issue. the ceiling (made old method-lots of wooden sticks) is covered by plaster which is getting crack etc.


The "old wooden sticks and plaster" construction you describe, while certainly not mold *proof* is somewhat more resistant to mold growth.

But If the wet ceiling assembly (not just the plaster) includes mold-friendly materials such as insulation, drywall, wood, paint, wallpaper, then leaving it wet invites mold contamination.


8/18/14 concerned relative said:

Hello, My grandmother lives in a section 8 house that is supposed to be regularly inspected and maintained. She has not had a visit like this in her apartment in the last 3-4 years.

Presently, she has been dealing with severe respiratory issues (frequent smoker, but these are brand new and putting a few dampaid products in her home to get rid of some of the musty smell and humidity has helped her.) There was a leak from her AC unit that they "fixed" a while back, after fixing it the humidity and musty smell in the house got significantly worse though.

My question, I guess, if they saw and did not properly address this problem (she also mentioned that she thought it was mold to one of the maintenance men working on her house, who blew it off and ignored her.

Also didn't have her wear a mask inside while he was doing all this renovating after the huge leak) and she's been having health issues related to it, can she sue the apartment complex or manager? I feel like given it's government property and they're held to higher standards this kind of thing never should have happened.

The managers have always been known to focus more on themselves and less on tenants though. Please answer asap.



You're right to ask the questions you do, but not quite right in guessing at proper procedure.

If a building has a large area of harmful mold contamination that needs to be removed and the cause fixed.

And if there was such a cleanup process performed, an elderly, fragile occupant should not be in the building at all during that work, and should not return until the building and its contents have successfully passed a mold clearance test.

I can't say from your note if the problem is a small one (less than 30 sqft of contiguous mold contamiantion) that can be handled by a handyman, or a large one (more than 30 sqft) that required professional treatment.


Continue reading at HEALTH DEPARTMENT HELP for RENTERS or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see MOLD / ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERT, HIRE ? - figure out when to hire someone

Or see MOLD: A COMPLETE GUIDE to TEST CLEAN PREVENT - home page for reading about how to clean up or remove mold and how to prevent its growth in buildings

Or see these

Rental Unit Health & Safety Article Series

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HEALTH DEPARTMENT HELP for RENTERS FAQs at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.


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