Sen. Holly J. Mitchell, D-Los Angeles has proposed legislation that includes mold as a factor making a home uninhabitable. While the idea is not bad, it is not clear about defining “bad” mold. Almost every home has mold, whether they are 100 years old or two years old. Mold commonly forms in bathrooms and at windows/sills.
This legislation would take what may be an ordinary housing condition, that is uncontrollable by the landlord, and make it into a legal defense to not pay rent.
I’m sure that this senator will include in her next election campaign that she fought for “the people” in proposing legislation, however, this is just more proposed legislation that will give more opportunity to the “opportunists” that cost us tax payers and consumers millions on millions of dollars each year.
Here is the opinion of the California Apartment Association:
SB 655 does not provide a workable standard for code enforcement – or for owners who want to stay in compliance. The reference to “any visible mold” is inconsistent with the existing substandard housing code sections, which require that a listed condition must exist to an extent that it endangers health. There is no standard for how much mold endangers health.
— While “any visible mold” should certainly be cleaned up, and underlying causes fixed, having any amount of mold or just a smell be the trigger for code enforcement – and all penalties and tenant remedies that go with it — is excessive.
— The California Department of Public Health strongly recommends that property owners address water damage and dampness. However, the department recommends against using mold to determine the level of health hazard or the need for urgent remediation.
— The definition of substandard housing already includes “dampness of habitable rooms.” Mold cannot exist in the absence of moisture.
— While CAA agrees that an owner should not be cited for substandard conditions that are caused by the tenant, the terms “inappropriate housekeeping practices” and “improper use of natural or mechanical ventilation” are too vague to be enforceable.