The problems associated with mold and the mildew that often accompany mold growth are well-known, due in large part to a highly-publicized case in Texas in 2001 that brought the issue of mold in residential dwellings to light. Although that case involved a homeowner, the questions about how mold affects people living in any kind of dwelling, including rental units, is now one of the most controversial topics in the public forum today.
Basic Renter's Rights in Texas
The state of Texas has many laws and regulations pertaining to rental dwellings of all types including houses, duplexes and apartments. These laws fall under the auspices of several different state agencies including the department of health, the fire marshal and the various building code enforcement agencies within the political subdivisions of the state. Of these, the department of health and code enforcement agencies are responsible for administering the health and safety of rental units. Mold and mildew fall in this category of renter's rights.
Texas Renter's Rights and Mold
Chapter 92 of the Texas property code covers all aspects of landlord-tenant issues, including the habitability of a rental property. The purpose of this code is to assure renters of a safe and secure space in general, yet mold is not specifically mentioned in the code. Section 92.052 (a) (3) does state that a landlord must make a diligent effort to repair or remedy a condition if it "materially affects" the health and safety of the occupants. In this sense, it is up to the renter to show that their well-being is adversely affected by mold and mildew.
Landlord's Duties to Remedy Mold and Mildew
There are other Texas statutes pertaining to mold and mildew remediation according to legalmatch.com. They refer to the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, which requires a landlord to inform a prospective tenant about any condition that may influence their decision to rent the property. This includes plumbing problems, such as water leaks that are likely to result in mold and mildew infestations. However, the information provided on this website also states that Texas courts have not yet decided whether or not the landlord is required to inform the tenant of past problems that were repaired.
Residential Mold Issues
In March of 2005, the Texas residential construction commission (TRCC) released a task force report outlining the issue of mold in the construction of new residential buildings. These findings included all such buildings, whether or not they were for private ownership or for rental. The task force focused on building practices, existing codes, and liability issues as to the need to prevent mold and mildew growth. Yet the report refrained from making technical recommendations because the "scientific research communities" had not reached a consensus at that point, due to variable factors such as individual susceptibility to mold problems, the individual's health status and the environment within a building.
Renter's Rights in Court
All Texas laws and codes pertaining to renter's rights and mold and mildew fall under the jurisdiction of civil law. In most cases, issues between landlords and tenants in remedy and repair situations are heard in small claims court because of the small dollar amounts that generally are at stake. This requires the tenant to sue in justice court (justice of the peace) if a landlord fails to address a reported mold and mildew problem. There are very precise steps to take, however, and any renter should seek legal advice before proceeding with a civil action in court.