Dealing With Mold in a Rental Apartment

Mold and Other Rental Nightmares

Two months after Kim Johnson moved into her new rental apartment in Louisville, Kentucky, she started to have trouble breathing. She took herself to an allergist and discovered she was highly allergic to mold. Suspicious, Johnson started examining her apartment and discovered black mold on the walls beneath the kitchen cabinets.

Now she's got two problems to deal with. "I can't live with the mold because it makes me sick," she says, "but I signed a one-year lease. How can I get out of this situation without being penalized?"

Mold is an environmental problem in rental apartments nationwide. Tenants have suffered significant health effects, including rashes, asthma and chronic fatigue caused by exposure to toxic molds in their apartment buildings. Some have won legal cases against their landlords for neglecting mold cleanup.

"If you suspect mold could be an issue in your rental space, it's wise to learn when your landlord is liable or when the burden is on you," says Marcia Stewart, co-author ofEvery Tenant's Legal Guide. Here's some advice on how to handle mold in a rental apartment.