Mold due to water heater leakage - Whose responsibility?

6 Replies

I need some urgent guidance on a situation with my rental. My tenant reported water heater leakage on 14th Feb. I got a technician to look at it same day and got the heater replaced (with permit taken) by 15th morning (in less than 24 hours). It seems the leakage was going on for a long time and tenant did not report to me. Now there is a lot of mold in garage due to this. Tenant is asking me to take care of it. 

1. I took care of leakage immediately. Is it not tenant's responsibility to not let the mold develop? Isn't it lease violation?

2. i am not able to find what is exact law here. Some places it says that mold due to leakage is landlord responsibility. But if I am not aware of leakage for days/weeks , shouldn't it be tenant responsibility that they ignored it and did not inform me.

3. It is a duplex and mold is possibly going to impact the other unit as we can see some on shared wall. Can I ask the tenant to take care of other side also? 

Please guide if I can press my tenant to take care of this mess. 



I have dealt with mold in the past, and i would think that it would benefit you to get it squared away as soon as possible, one of my partners had a similar situation, drug his feet, and the city came and taped up the property, my partner had to put them in a hotel for 2 weeks while he mediated the mold. 
The insurance eventually reimbursed, but it was a pain none the less.  Secondly, the mold will continue to spread, so todays problem will be tomorrows little cousin.  I hope you get it all figured out.

@Cody Malone I do intend to take care of it. I am just asking if I can ask tenant to take care of it first. If they do not act fast, I will do it anyway. In that case, my question would be, can I charge them for the cost?

I was told by a lawyer that I can deduct it from security deposit if I find mold when tenant leaves. But I have no idea how to handle this situation when tenant has reported it. I have sent them a note to take care of it asap. I explained to them that it is their responsibility and i can help as needed.

Your property therefor you are ultimately responsible. How do you prove tenants was aware of leak.

For mold to develop the leak would have existed for a long time, mold does not happen over night, in which case you should have found it yourself during your regular inspections and fixed it before it became a problem.

If you do not do regular inspections then it is definatly your responsibility to cover the cost of repairs. Landlords do not rely on tennats to report problems.

It is kinda tricky, what state are you in? One of my close friends is a real estate attorney, i can email and ask his opinion.  I think it would come down to if the tenant demonstrated negligence in the matter.  This would be hard to prove, but if the mold is visibly present, then you probably have some grounds.  I would document all visible signs of the mold.  And my biggest question i would ask myself is are they good tenants? That is generally a good base line for how to move forward

@Thomas S. I agree that it takes time but I can not inspect every month. We do inspections once in 6 months. Last inspection had nothing. This is exactly the reason tenant is responsible as they did not inform the leak. 

Anyway, I shared the mold removal references with them. If they do not confirm that they will take care of it in next 12 hours, I will act on it. No doubt about it. I want them to own it up and giving them a chance.

@Cody Malone I am in California.  City is Sacramento. Thanks for offering to help

In my experience, it’s your responsibility. Your Home owners insurance will cover the mold remediation up to 5k. It’s imperative that you notify them immediately however. I own a Restoration company in NJ, and deal with this all the time.

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