Landlord Charging for Mold Test

6 Replies

My friend notified her landlord that it looked like there might be mold accumulating in her apartment. We live within a mile of the beach, so moisture and mold can be a problem. A month later, the landlord sent her a bill for the mold test. There was no communication prior to sending her in the invoice stating that it was her responsibility to pay. When she questioned why the landlord feels that she needs to pay for the test, they sited the lease agreement where it stated that the landlord verified that there was no mold at the time she moved in and that it is the responsibility of  tenant to "maintain the premises in a manner that prevents the occurrence of an infestation of mold in the premises. Resident also agrees to immediately report to the owner/agent any evidence of water leaks, excessive moisture or lack of proper ventilation and evidence of mold that cannot be removed by cleaning."

The owner is pointing to this line of the lease and stating that it is the tenant's responsibility to pay for the mold test after she reported that there may be an issue (as stated in the lease to report immediately).

My question: who is responsible for the payment? I feel that it is the responsibility of the landlord/owner. They own in a place that is known for mold and moisture due to the proximity to the ocean. Furthermore, the landlord will not provide the tenant with the findings of said test they would like the tenant to pay for. I know this community is comprised primarily of landlords so I would love to hear what you all have to say. Thank you.

Well, it's poor form to do something and then charge the tenant without telling them there would be a charge. On the other hand, if the area is known for mold and moisture due to the proximity of the ocean, and the house didn't have mold when the tenant moved in, and nothing is leaking (i.e. from another unit) and the heating/cooling system works, I would imagine it's either mother nature or the tenant that is causing the mold now. What made the tenant believe that mold might be accumulating in her apartment? If there's obvious mold, then that should lead to investigation because there's likely a leak (or no air circulation). If there's no obvious mold, and it's just a case of California Crazy, then the tenant should pay for the test - but the landlord should have let her know there would be a charge, or, more properly, told the tenant after an inspection revealed nothing that was the LL's issue that she would have to get her own test.

Thanks, @JD Martin . She noticed something growing on her window and that's when she reported it to her landlord. I personally have not seen what she referred to but reached out for my opinion after the landlord sent her an invoice unexpectedly. 

It just seems a bit off that they would tell her she has to pay but will not provide her the results of the test she is being asked to pay for. To my knowledge, she did not demand a test to be done, rather informed them that something looked like it was growing and that it could be mold.

Originally posted by @Josh Wallace :

Thanks, @JD Martin. She noticed something growing on her window and that's when she reported it to her landlord. I personally have not seen what she referred to but reached out for my opinion after the landlord sent her an invoice unexpectedly. 

It just seems a bit off that they would tell her she has to pay but will not provide her the results of the test she is being asked to pay for. To my knowledge, she did not demand a test to be done, rather informed them that something looked like it was growing and that it could be mold.

 Just out of curiosity, how much was the invoice? Mold/mildew growing on a window is likely from condensation or a rainwater leak. 

I've spent a lot of time in beach houses and houses in generally humid climates, and they never have a mold problem any more than any other house unless there is a leak somewhere and/or no air circulation.

The other thing is that lots of people jump right to mold when something is really just mildew like can happen in a bathroom that isn't cleaned often. This might be at least one of the reasons the landlord put that clause in the lease.

I do feel there could have been more communication from the landlord's side, but on the other side of the fence, she may have first wanted to consult her lease again for any mention of mold in it.

Also, if the landlord didn't provide the results, they need to do that. The lack of communication is a bit lazy to me regardless how busy or not he/she might be.

If you pay for a test you should get results. The landlord is not communicating well and is not consistent in his position. However what I say and what others hear is sometimes not the same. What went on here may be she said mold and he heard test it.... They have to have a frank discussion on wh pays.