This article answers frequently asked questions about your rights as a tenant when you are renting an apartment or home with mold in Texas.
Does a landlord have to remove mold from a rental property in Texas?
The law says that landlords in Texas have a duty to remove conditions that “materially affect the physical health or safety of an ordinary tenant” if all of the following are true:
- The condition was not caused by the tenant (renter), the tenant’s family, or the tenant's guests; and
- The landlord has proper written notice of the condition; and
- The tenant is not delinquent in rent at the time of giving the landlord notice to repair or remedy.
Read the law here: Tex. Prop. Code § 92.056.
How much time does a landlord have to remove mold from my apartment or house?
It depends on how you send notice to the landlord to repair or remedy the problem, and on the circumstances of the condition and its repair.
The landlord has a reasonable amount of time to remove the mold after receiving the tenant’s notice if:
- The tenant sent the notice by certified mail, return receipt, or other method with tracking; or
- The tenant sent a second written notice after waiting a reasonable amount of time after sending a first written notice.
Tip: If you send your first notice by certified mail, return receipt, or other method with tracking, you are not required to send a second notice to your landlord.
Note: You should try getting the problem fixed as quickly as possible by talking with or calling the landlord. However, to protect your rights to repair under Texas law, it is very important that you give the landlord written notice, preferably by certified mail, return receipt, or other method with tracking.
What is considered a reasonable amount of time to make a repair or remedy a problem?
Seven (7) days is generally considered a reasonable amount of time. However, the court can consider a different length of time to be reasonable based on:
- The date the landlord received the notice,
- The severity and nature of the condition, and
- The reasonable availability of materials and labor and of utilities access.
Note: Exceptions apply to the timing to complete a repair if the damage to the rental property was an insured casualty loss. If the mold problem is a covered condition, the landlord has a reasonable amount of time after receiving the insurance proceeds to complete the repairs. Talk with a lawyer about your right to end your lease before the problem is corrected or receive a rent reduction if the property becomes totally unusable during the time your landlord is waiting for insurance proceeds to make a repair.
What options do I have if my landlord refuses to remove the mold from my apartment or house?
- End your lease and move.
- File (turn in) a lawsuit against the landlord in court.
- Hire a contractor to repair the mold and deduct the cost of repair from your rent. You can only do this under very specific circumstances (see below).
Important: Talk with a landlord-tenant lawyer before you move forward with the above options if the landlord refuses to repair a hazardous mold condition.
If you need to talk with a lawyer, you can:
Can I just remove the mold myself and reduce the amount I pay my landlord in rent that month?
No. The repair and deduct method is not automatic and only reduces a future rent payment (if allowable). This method is not recommended without the advice of a lawyer.
If you want to have the mold removed (and the landlord is refusing to remove it), you must either:
- get a court order requiring the landlord to remove the mold, or
- follow the repair and deduct rules in Tex. Prop. Code § 92.0561 that, for example:
- limit the rent deduction for the cost of repair in any given month to the greater of one month’s rent or $500.00 (for non-subsidized rent),
- limit the rent deduction for the cost of repair in any given month to the greater of the fair market value of one month’s rent or $500.00 (for subsidized rent),
- only allow a tenant to repair and deduct if the landlord has a duty to fix the problem, and
- only allow the tenant to repair and deduct if the tenant did not waive his or her right to the repair in an enforceable provision in the lease agreement. (Read the law here: Tex. Prop. Code § 92.006 (e), (f).)
Note: An exception exists if you and your landlord agreed in writing for you to repair a condition at the landlord’s expense. Read the law here: Tex. Prop. Code § 92.0561(d), (e).
Do I have to have the property inspected for the mold removal to be covered by the landlord?
Not always. Mold removal can be covered without an inspection where:
- Your landlord agreed to the mold removal; or
- Without an agreement, a court finds that the mold condition materially affects the physical health or safety of an ordinary tenant and lets you:
- end your lease, or
- get a court order requiring mold removal.
If, however, you want to use the repair and deduct remedy, you must have the appropriate local housing, building, or health official (or other official having jurisdiction) provide the landlord with written notice that the mold condition materially affects the health or safety of an ordinary tenant. This official might be a city health inspector, for example.
What should I do if my health has been harmed by hazardous mold?
If you feel your health has been harmed due to hazardous mold exposure, talk with an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately. Owners of property (such as your landlord) could potentially be held responsible for health effects you are able to prove you suffered due to exposure to hazardous conditions on the property. A personal injury lawyer can help you determine if you have a “toxic mold” claim that is connected to your mold exposure.
Note: Since gathering of evidence and environmental testing is critical to a toxic mold claim, you should talk with a lawyer quickly so you may begin to prepare evidence for your potential claim.
For more information on mold and toxins, see the Center for Disease Control’s site: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/publications/books/housing/cha05.htm.
Where can I find more information about renter’s rights to repairs in Texas?
For detailed information on renter’s rights to repairs in Texas, see the following links:
- Office of the Attorney General: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/cpd/tenant-rights
- The Texas Apartment Association: http://www.taa.org/renters/helpful-info/
- Austin Tenant’s Council: https://www.housing-rights.org/repair-rights
- Texas Young Lawyer’s Association (TYLA) – Tenants’ Rights Handout: www.tyla.org/tyla/assets/File/Tenants%20Rights%202014.pdf
Tip: The Austin Tenant’s Council has do-it-yourself forms for sending notices to your landlord to ask for repairs on your rental property. It also has do-it-yourself forms for ending your lease and for filing a lawsuit. Get forms here from Austin Tenant’s Council Self-Help Repair Packet.
Read the law here: Tex. Prop. Code §§ 92.051-.062.