|In Texas, can you…?
|Move out due to mold?
|Withhold rent due to mold?
|Pay for your own mold remediation and deduct cost from rent?
|Sue a landlord and others over mold?
|Contact local media outlets about the mold?
|Terminate a lease early due to mold?
|Be informed of mold before renting an apartment?
Facing mold at your home can be a real stressor. Understandably, you can’t decide whether you should be paying rent, moving out, or taking legal action.
To make things easier for you, this article will answer all the questions that may come across your mind.
Add to that, you’ll find the steps you need to follow in order to preserve your rights if you find mold in your Texan home.
Texas Renters’ Rights & Laws on Mold
According to the property laws in Texas, it’s your right that your landlord provides conditions that don’t affect your safety or physical health.
You’re in the position to take action if the following applies:
- The conditions weren’t caused by you as a tenant, your family, or any of your guests.
- There’s a documented notice of the condition.
- You were quick and timely to pay rent at the time of the condition’s documentation for repair.
So, if all these conditions apply, how can you preserve your rights?
Always start by contacting your landlord and communicating your complaint. If that doesn’t work, you can reach out to a local news station to help investigate the issue further.
Investigations are important because there aren’t particular laws that are concerned with mold requirements. That’s why it’s important to report the instance.
Once the issue is looked into, you can reach out to your insurance company. Then, they can either ask the landlord to return the security deposit to you or recover the costs of mold damage from the landlord.
However, these procedures can be lengthy and your issue might not be resolved in the end. In that case, you might want to opt for further legal action.
Can you sue for mold in Texas?
You may not want to go through with a trial—and that’s understandable. If so, you can opt for petitioning a Texas court to issue an order for your landlord to remove the mold.
On the other hand, you have the right to file a lawsuit against your landlord for mold. After that, the judge or the jury will decide whether the mold was caused by the landlord’s negligence or if they had lied about the mold condition of the house.
If they prove either, the landlord would have to pay you for the damages, which can be a significant amount. It should cover the medical costs, property damage costs, as well as compensate for the pain and suffering.
Can I withhold rent for mold in Texas?
To preserve renters’ rights, courts propose two procedures that tenants can follow after they face a mold outbreak on their rented property.
This is the route where tenants stop paying rent. This should take place when the conditions prove to be inhabitable.
By all means, landlords are legally bound to compensate renters if the property they offered proves to be in an inhabitable condition.
As a matter of fact, landlords are legally bound to repair or remedy any conditions that render a property unlivable.
Repair and deduct
The second option is to take up matters into your own hands and fix the mold issue yourself. Then, you can deduct the money you paid from the rent.
What you need to know
Before following either of the two strategies, you have to make sure you’ve done your part. You have to take the following into consideration beforehand:
- The habitability issue that you’re facing has to qualify for repair-and-deduct eligibility.
- You have to have sent the proper notice as well as given the landlord the amount of time required to remedy the issue.
- Know the limit that you can deduct from the rent as well as the limit on the number of times you can use a certain solution.
- Understand the Texas state laws regarding landlord retaliation. In these cases, landlords can send a termination notice or even increase the rent as a consequence of you taking legal action.
- Other conditions, like depositing rent into an escrow account.
What is considered “unlivable conditions” in Texas?
With all the talk about habitability and unlivable conditions, let’s look at the exact conditions that render a property unlivable.
It’s mainly dangerous hazards, such as holes in the floors or walls, infestations, broken furnaces, and exposed electrical wires.
Other issues like a cable TV that’s not working or an outdated appliance don’t make your property unlivable.
Unless, of course, there’s any danger or threat associated with their condition. For example, gas leaking from an outdated stove or water heater.
How long does a landlord have to fix a mold problem in Texas?
How long a landlord has to fix the mold problem depends on how and when you send the notice as well as the circumstances of the issue.
To make sure you preserve your right to take legal action, make sure you give your landlord notice through certified mail, a return receipt, or any other method that’s trackable.
Documentation is needed in order to make sure you can take legal action if need be.
If you send a notice by mail, for instance, you might have to send a second one to make sure the landlord had the opportunity to notice and take care of the issue.
How long should I wait?
Generally speaking, the time limit is around seven days. However, the court can decide differently according to the following:
- The date that you gave your landlord notice.
- How severe the condition is.
- The access to utilities, materials, and availability of labor.
In the case that you have insurance for casualty loss and that the mold problem is covered, your landlord will have enough time to complete the repairs after receiving the insurance proceeds.
However, you should communicate with a lawyer to reserve your right to end the lease or reduce rent. That’s if the condition of the property becomes unlivable by the time your landlord receives those proceeds to start remedying the mold issue.
When all is said and done, dealing with a mold infestation is as daunting for you as it is for your landlord. This is why the best strategy would be to aim for cooperation from the very first step.
However, you should also plan to take legal action against the landlord if they prove unresponsive or try to retaliate.
As such, always remember to send a documented and tracked notice of your issue.
This article is written by a contributor. For our most complete dive into mold laws/lawsuits, see Alabama Mold Laws.