How to Report Mold in Rental Property

Anthony Bolstad

Anthony Bolstad is a member of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors who covers consumer safety and education for


  1. Report mold right away to management, owners, landlords.
  2. Report it in writing, by letter. Follow up with emails and texts. Pictures are helpful to both of you, and truly “worth 1,000 words.”
  3. At least 1 of your letters MUST be sent or delivered exactly as stated in your lease and state law.
  4. What you write is much less important than when, how, and to whom you send your letter. Send or deliver your letter exactly as outlined in your state’s law, and to the legal address typically listed near the end of your lease. As for content, just explain what you see, smell, or have noticed, and the effect it’s having on you, and ask that it be remedied as fast as possible.
  5. More letters, emails, and texts are better than too few, especially if the problem persists or returns.
  6. Document (photograph) all mold growth, letters sent, work or repairs done.
  7. Keep a copy of all communication you have with your landlord.
  8. Know that as tenant, you have responsibilities, too.
  9. And that most of your recourse options come AFTER a letter to your landlord, properly sent, and allowed enough time to act on (typically 10-30 days; varies by state).
  10. If you stop paying your rent “due to mold,” but have not followed all legal steps, you can legally be evicted.
  11. You may be asked to “relocate” to a motel or other unit while mold removal is in progress. This is not “eviction.”

If you discover mold growth in a house or apartment you’re renting, there’s a good chance that it will be your landlord’s or property management’s responsibility to take care of, though tenants do share some basic responsibilities in preventing mold.

The laws regarding mold in rental properties vary from state to state, as do the specifics of the situation that will come into play.

If you want to get mold taken care of quickly in an apartment or home you’re renting, the first step should always be reporting the mold growth to your landlord.

If your landlord or property management is communicative and caring, a text message or email should work just fine to begin with.

If your landlord of property management is not communicative, and you’ve had problems getting them to address other maintenance or safety concerns, start with a text or email, but always be sure to follow it up with an email as well as a written notice.

Each of these (texts, emails, letters, phone calls) are typically admissible in a court of law, but you must must also send a notice in writing exactly as outlined in your lease.

What this means specifically is that your lease contains a section or clause telling you how to bring matters to your landlord’s attention. Follow it word for word. This section or clause is usually near the end of a lease, and it will include a physical mailing address where letters can be sent.

If the mold in your rental property is serious—or you think there is even the slightest chance you will have to sue your landlord over the mold and any problems it has caused you or your family—you MUST write and send the letter.

(Place a phone call and send text messages and an email as the fastest way to reach your landlord, but always follow it up with the written letter.)

Key Do’s and Don’ts: Part 1, The Letter

  • Alert your landlord of a mold problem first by any means as soon as possible—if you generally text or call them, text or call them now about the mold. If you generally email, email them.
    • This rapid alert to your landlord is key to getting the mold problem dealt with as quickly as possible.
  • After you’ve informed your landlord by text or email, always follow up with a printed letter sent via the United States Postal Service.
    • Write this letter with as much detail and information as possible, and include photographs. Do you suspect a broken or leaky pipe? Say so. Is your breathing affected? Say so. Is mold visible? Bubbling paint? warped walls? Black streaks or spots? Say so, and include photos.
    • Mail your letter via the United States Postal Service.
    • Mail your letter to the physical address (mailing address) listed in your lease. This address is usually found at the end of your lease. And it is usually not provided/listed specifically for the purpose of mold alerts, but for all such problems in general, and for all legal communication to your landlord.
  • This printed and mailed letter IS THE KEY to any legal action or recourse you may later need or want to take.
    • If you want to be able to terminate a lease if the mold is unhandled, your ability to do so usually depends upon 30 days passing after you’ve mailed your letter.
    • If you want to be able to “repair and deduct” the costs of dealing with mold from your rent, your ability to do so usually depends upon 30 days passing after you’ve mailed your letter.
    • If you want to be able to sue your landlord or property management, your ability to so so depends upon 30 days passing after you’ve mailed your letter—among other factors.

What to Send in a Letter to Your Landlord

A good letter telling your landlord about mold in the apartment or home that you are renting is one that:

  • Is sent to the address included in your signed lease.
  • Is specific and shares exactly where the mold growth, water stains, or buckling paint is.
  • Includes photographs of each area.
  • Is sent as soon as you notice the mold, or as soon as possible—some states require a period of time to pass between when you send this specific written notice, and when you can take further action if nothing effective has been done to address the mold.
  • Is best sent by certified mail, registered mail, or return receipt requested.
  • Is one that you keep a copy of.

Requirements vary from state to state, but in all states the letter above is the most important action you can and must take when you notice mold in your aparment.

Here is how the State of Texas, for example, requires the letter to be sent:

“Send the landlord a dated letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by registered mail, outlining the needed repairs. You may also deliver the letter in person. Keep a copy of the letter. Be sure that your rent is current when the notice is received.”

Renter’s Rights, Attorney General, State of Texas

If you do not send the letter properly, you will be possibly delaying future actions you can take — including withholding rent, moving out, or filing a lawsuit.

If you do send it properly, your landlord or property management typically has seven (7) days to address the problem.

The number of days may vary depending on conditions and the state you live in, but legally speaking, it is usually a “reasonable amount of time,” which in most cases is seven days.

Or, if the problem is more involved, seven (7) days to take significant action, or make a “diligent effort.”

In either case, if you believe you will ever have to escalate your concerns to withholding rent, terminating a lease, or filing a lawsuit, start a physical file folder and place a copy of every action you have taken with regard to mold prevention, and getting the mold corrected.

  • Pictures of the mold (iPhone or smartphone photos are perfectly acceptable).
  • Copies of any doctor’s reports, if you went to visit one. (And if you’re feeling physical affected by the mold, you should do so. Tell your doctor what you’re experiencing, and tell them you have mold in your apartment/home.)
  • Copies of emails, texts, and letters sent.

Your attorney and others you seek help from will appreciate this tremendously.

You may also put the file folder together on your phone or computer, but know that the more information you have and the better it is organized, the better off you will be.

This compilation of information—and seeing a doctor while you are still living in the rental—is the bare minimum investment you can make in order to greatly improve your odds of succeeding in a mold lawsuit.

Key Do’s and Don’ts: Part 2, After Sending Letter

  • Now that you have alerted your landlord to the mold problem (via texts, emails, or phone calls, and the legally-required letter mailed via the Post Office), do this:
  • Keep copies of all texts, letters, emails, photos, notes, and communication regarding the mold.
  • Make a file folder for this, or establish a safe, organized space for it.
  • Take photographs of activity related to efforts to resolve the mold:
    • Maintenance or mold vehicles on the property? Take a photo.
    • Work taking place in your apartment? Take a photo.
    • Results of that work? Take a photo. Was the mold simply painted over? Or was wet building material removed?

Meanwhile, Back at the Apartment

Before or after sending your text messages, emails, and written notice to your landlord, be sure your “own house is in order.”

That simply means to take a moment to think about whether something you might be doing (or might have done) may have contributed to or caused the mold to grow.

These things, if you were doing them, would be obvious:

  • Did a water bed leak?
  • Does the tub or toilet overflow daily or weekly?
  • Is an exterior window left open overnight, even when it’s raining?

Visually Document the Mold Growth

When you’re reporting a mold problem in your rental home, it’s always prudent to document the extent of the fungus with photos and, if possible, videos.

This way, your landlord (and legal aides) will have an idea of how serious the problem is.

Plus, if there does end up being any sort of dispute about eliminating the mold, you’ll have proof of the infestation and its magnitude.

In the vast majority of cases, there will be no issue settling the matter with the landlord, but it’s always better to have a backup plan and not need it than to need one and not have it.

If you can, it’s also wise to take visual documentation of any specific conditions in the home that you believe led to the mold growth.

For example, if the fungus was able to grow and expand because of a leaking pipe or appliance within the house, you should take some photos or videos of the leak.

Typically, the responsibility of removing a mold infestation will only fall on the landlord if they failed to keep the home in livable condition.

So, if you suspect that your mold problem was a result of your landlord neglecting needed maintenance or repairs, you’ll want to make sure that fact is documented.

That will help remove any ambiguity about whose duty it is to remedy the situation. Plus, there’s a good chance it will speed up the process of your landlord taking care of the household problems they’ve been ignoring.

Your Approach to the Landlord, Apartment Complex

  • Be friendly and courteous, but demanding: Your lease is a legally binding contract, not a favor, no matter how friendly you and your landlord or apartment complex staff might be with oneanother.
  • Many landlords are honest and caring when it comes to their tenants and mold problems. Others aren’t.
    • Great landlords: Will hire a mold remediation company to deal with a mold problem, quickly and properly. (Note that this may require you moving out of your apartment temporarily, depending on the severity of the mold growth—and it’s [usually] in your best interest to do so).
    • Good landlords: May want to help but not know better. May hire a handyman to deal with mold, not knowing mold requires a more technical approach.
    • Bad landlords: May purposely hide mold problems by simply painting over them. May downplay the scope of the mold problem, or exaggerate the work done to resolve the mold problem. May threaten lawsuits against you or other tenants for bad reviews.
  • Many tenants don’t realize they have been affected by mold until many months after it has occurred.
  • This delayed reaction is one of several reasons you must:
    • 1. Alert your landlord to the problem via the legally-required written letter.
    • 2. Keep a record of all communication about the mold, and document efforts to deal with it (or the lack of efforts), as well as your own health.

Provide a Written Notice

Once you’ve got your visual evidence of the mold growth, your next step should be to give your landlord written notice of the issue.

Let them know that you have a problem with toxic mold in your house and request that they promptly evaluate and resolve the situation.

You’ll want to make sure you sign and date the letter, and it would also be prudent to take a photo of the letter or make yourself a copy.

Then, either hand the notice off to your landlord or mail it to them. If you decide to send the letter in the mail, be sure to send it with signature confirmation.

That way, they won’t be able to claim that they never received it. If possible, you should also provide them with the visual documentation you took of the fungus, either by including physical photos or by sending them an email or text message.

What if the Landlord Doesn’t Take Action?

Hopefully, your landlord will do their duty and promptly get your mold problem taken care of once you’ve notified them.

However, that isn’t always how it goes. The specific laws regarding how long your landlord has to take action differ depending on where you live, but if they are unresponsive to your requests, your next course of action is to contact the housing or building inspector.

Before you go that route, though, you should attempt to contact your landlord several times, as calling the inspector should truly be a last resort course of action.

Once you reach out to the inspector, they’ll visit your home and take down an official record of the mold infestation. If they determine that your landlord is responsible for the issues, they will contact the landlord and enforce the applicable building codes.

However, if the inspector determines that it was your actions as a tenant that allowed the mold growth to occur, it will be your responsibility to pay for the mold remediation and any related repairs.

For example, if it turns out that the fungus was able to grow because of a spilled beverage or a pile of wet clothes, it will be on you to get rid of it.