When you search for the perfect rental, you likely have many criteria in mind: if it’s in a decent neighborhood, if it’s affordable, and the amount of square footage. Most of us reasonably assume that an apartment is safe from hazards that could affect our health and well-being. Unfortunately, apartments can have hidden hazards that lead to health problems – hazards such as toxic black mold. If you recently discovered that black mold in your apartment led to health problems for you or your family, you may be wondering if you can file a claim against the property owner. The simple answer is that it depends on the circumstances, so speak with a qualified West Virginia premises liability attorney to learn more.
Your Landlord’s Responsibilities with Regard to Black Mold
Black mold is the newest in a realm of law called “toxic torts,” which also include dangerous things like lead-based paints and asbestos. Under the landlord tenancy laws, an owner of a property has a legal responsibility to provide safe living conditions free of foreseeable hazards. In legal terms, this is also called an “implied warranty of habitability.”
The standard for the implied warranty of habitability will depend on your municipality’s building code. Minor issues like leaking faucets are generally not a violation of building code, but the presence of any material that can lead to health problems is.
Furthermore, the extent of your landlord’s responsibilities is in your lease, which is legally binding. The terms of this contract are enforceable, which means the landlord will be responsible for any violations. In other words, if a contract states that a landlord will be responsible for fixing leaky pipes, and failure to do so leads to the growth of toxic black mold, then failure to address the problem could be a breach of contract.
Your Responsibility with Regard to Toxic Black Mold
Your landlord may be required to remediate any issues that lead to the growth of toxic black mold, but you may also be required to alert him or her to any issues. If you notice the presence of any toxic black mold, contact your landlord and tell him or her about it as soon as possible.
Symptoms of Black Mold
You may have black mold growing in your rental if you notice any detrimental health effects that don’t go away, or get worse when you’re home. The most common symptoms of black mold exposure are respiratory and include things like sneezing, eye irritation, wheezing, rashes, and chronic fatigue. In severe cases, people affected by black mold may experience nausea, vomiting, and even bleeding into the lungs. The symptoms of black mold exposure can be particularly dangerous for young children, those with asthma or allergies, pregnant women, or the elderly.
Damages in a Toxic Tort
If you suffered harm from living in a rental with toxic black mold, you may be able to collect damages from your landlord to compensate for them. Though the specifics vary from case to case, you may be able to collect the following types of compensation:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Any damage to property within your rental
- Intangible losses such as loss of life quality and physical suffering
If you or your loved ones suffered the effects of toxic black mold, you may be able to file a claim under premises liability law or under breach of contract, depending on the circumstances. No matter your grounds, you will need the assistance of a West Virginia personal injury lawyer to hold the landlord wholly accountable for his or her negligence.