Rental property often provides a unique challenge when requiring mold inspection, testing and remediation due to additional parties being involved. Many times property owners do not take the immediate action required to correct a moisture intrusion issue which can potentially lead to mold growth. Those that do take action often do so incorrectly or hastily, increasing the possibility of secondary damages and cross contamination. Others just paint over the problem and say it has been fixed.
Mold issues are typically governed by the lease agreement and treated like other maintenance matters where you would submit a written request to your landlord or property owner.
Current Texas law does not require landlords or property owners to inspect for or clean mold. Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) cannot advise you on legal issues such as paying rent, requesting to be moved to another unit, breaking your lease, or preventing an eviction. Tenants are encouraged to work with their landlords and property owners to come to mutual agreement about how to deal with a mold situation.
NTX Enviro often receives calls from renters looking to have a mold inspection and testing done in their residence. The calls are typically for one of the following reasons:
Tenant feels sick and suspects the air quality to be the reason.
Landlord refuses to address or acknowledge a mold/air quality issue.
Tenant is looking for the burden of proof through testing to get problem addressed, break their lease or be reassigned to a new unit.
NTX Enviro employs a licensed Mold Assessment Consultant, licensed under the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. State rules require licensed mold assessors and remediators to give a copy of the Consumer Mold Information Sheet (CMIS) to each client AND to the property owner, if not the same person, before starting any mold-related activity [16 TAC 78.70]. What this means to the tenant is that we must provide paperwork to the management company and/or landlord PRIOR to providing any inspection or testing services. In some instances, the management company and/or landlord does not want or approve of mold inspection and testing being performed on their property due to their lack of knowledge on the topic, belief that there isn’t really a mold problem or for fear of legal retribution from the tenant if mold is found.
Sometimes landlords are responsive and sometimes they’re not. If your management company and/or landlord is trying to fulfill their responsibility to provide safe and livable housing and approves of the inspection, NTX Enviro can move forward after providing them with a copy of the Consumer Mold Information Sheet (CMIS). If the landlord does not approve or the tenant chooses to not disclose the request for testing to them, NTX Enviro cannot perform any inspection or testing services on that property.
There are options available to tenants in situations where the landlord is not involved. Tenants can do their own simple surface testing using a piece of scotch tape and a Ziploc bag. The scotch tape is simply stuck to the area in question and then removed, stuck to the inside of the Ziploc bag, sealed and then it can be brought or mailed to the Moldlab, a Texas licensed mold laboratory located in Carrollton, Texas. Directions and a Chain of Custody document can be found here. The Moldlabalso rents air pumps and sells spore trap cassettes should the tenant wish to do air sampling as well. Testing instructions, directions and information is available at their website at www.Moldlab.com. Reports are generally available within three (3) business days.
The following websites also provide good resources for information regarding Tenant/Landlord laws in Texas:
Contact your City Building Official (Code Compliance). The building official may inspect the unit to determine if it is structurally sound. They may also, in some cases, enforce maintenance provisions of the building code.
You may also wish to contact an attorney for legal assistance. If you need help finding an attorney, the State Bar of Texas offers a lawyer referral and information service at 1-800-252-9690. Various tenant, apartment and consumer organizations may also have resources to help you.
A tenant can try to file a complaint with the local city or county health department. Some cities or counties in larger metropolitan areas may have adopted ordinances that allow them to enforce building codes, or that authorize a local health department to declare a property a public health nuisance, and may be able to issue correction orders to the landlord. Listings of Local Health Departments in Texas.
Tenants may seek assistance from their local building code official, if there is one. The building official may inspect the unit to determine if it is structurally sound. They may also, in some cases, enforce maintenance provisions of the building code