Mold is one of the most common types of fungus, and nearly all homes throughout the United States have a small amount of mold within them. While a little mold is normal and harmless, too much mold, and certain types of mold, can be dangerous for human health.
While searching for an apartment in Columbia or surrounding areas, determining if mold is present may not be something that crosses your mind. If mold does exist, however, it could pose certain risks. Here’s what you need to know about the dangers of mold, and what your rights are if mold causes you harm.
The Dangers of Mold
Growing wherever there is moisture, therefore especially common in bathrooms and kitchens, mold can have a variety of effects on health. As reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some people are more sensitive to mold than are others. For those with mold sensitivities or certain health conditions, exposure to mold may result in:
- Serious lung infections;
- Skin irritation;
- Eye irritation; and
Even in people who do not have mold allergies or mold sensitivities, however, research indicates that exposure to mold can cause upper respiratory tract infections, shortness of breath, and the potential development of asthma.
There are also a handful of more serious illnesses that have been linked to mold exposure, but this link has not yet been proven. These conditions include memory loss, lethargy, and acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage in babies.
Who Is Responsible for Mold Removal?
Controlling mold in the home is relatively easy – you should make sure areas of moisture are well ventilated, fix leaks when they occur, and control humidity levels. However, not all mold can be seen with the naked eye; in some cases, mold may exist under carpet or beneath flooring or walls, making it very difficult to detect and remove without professional intervention.
If you are renting an apartment in South Carolina, it is important that you know that your landlord has a legal duty to ensure that the apartment is free from any health or safety hazards, and is fit to be lived in. Not only does this mean that the landlord is responsible for all mold removal before you move in, but that the landlord is also responsible for correcting leaks or any other structural problems should they occur. It is your responsibility to report these issues to your landlord immediately. If mold accumulates in your apartment after you move in as a result of your own actions, like failing to clean your bathroom or kitchen, your landlord is not responsible for this.
Can I File a Lawsuit?
If you discover mold in your apartment, your first action should be to send a written notice to your landlord of the mold. It is important that the contact is in writing for documentation purposes. Your landlord has a duty to address the issue within a reasonable amount of time, however, remember that the landlord is responsible for structural defects (i.e. a leak, mold underneath carpet from before you moved in, etc.) and not cleaning up new problems – cleaning is generally the tenant’s responsibility.
If your health suffers as a result of exposure to mold, you should seek medical care and document all care received as proof. You should also photograph the mold in the apartment, and keep documentation of any contact you have with your landlord.
Most landlord-tenant disputes, including those involving the presence of mold, are handled out of court. If your landlord refuses to take action, or if your health has declined significantly, filing a lawsuit against the landlord may be the only avenue to resolving the issue. Typically, lawsuits such as these are filed in small claims court. Keep in mind that even if you have not suffered any injuries, your landlord is still responsible for ensuring that the apartment is habitable, and must remove mold as such.
How Our Columbia Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help
If you notice mold in your apartment, contact your landlord immediately. If the problem goes unresolved, our Columbia personal injury lawyers at the offices of the Peake & Fowler Law Firm, P.A. can help you to understand what to do next. We can advise you regarding bringing forth a lawsuit against your landlord, as well as how to demand repairs/mold removal from your landlord and other potential steps to take. To learn more, contact our law offices today online or by phone at (803) 788-4370.