Can You Sue For Mold Exposure – If you have mold in your DC rental, you won’t get help without a fight. While landlords are required to remove mold when it is found, some tenants are required to take it to the Housing Authority for inspection and treatment. Right now, city officials aren’t trained to spot mold and can’t charge homeowners when they neglect to fix it.
“Mold is a major cause of tenant complaints in substandard housing,” DC Council President Phil Mendelson said in an email. His Indoor Mold Remediation Enforcement Amendment Act of 2019 seeks to amend the Air Quality Amendment Act of 2014, which requires homeowners to control mold but not use it properly. Right now, borrowers can file lawsuits in DC Superior Court or pay themselves to settle the problem, but the system could leave low-income people out of the loop for expensive help.
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Two DC agencies are facing mold problems: the Department of Consumer Affairs and Regulation (DCRA, which by law
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Mention cases of mold in rental homes, but it doesn’t seem to, even though it covers many of the same issues, with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DOEE), which oversees the licensing of private mold inspectors and contractors. It is unclear who is communicating between the two, or who is supposed to be.
“Unfortunately, the current application process requires the involvement of the DC Department of Energy and Environment, although tenants often call the Department of Consumer Affairs and Control because DCRA handles all other violations of housing laws”, said Mendelson. “The result is, from the lender’s point of view, difficult work and unnecessary delays.”
The new law will put the Department of Consumer Affairs and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) in charge of investigating and remediating mold, and will give it the power to cite noncompliant landlords. It will also require DOEE to certify DCRA building inspectors to inspect and control indoor mold to address indoor mold complaints. DOEE currently only certifies private contractors; The Mendelson Amendment shifted the foreign liability to the DCRA.
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Mold affects everything from community homes and other residential buildings to student dormitories. Last year, 600 University of Maryland students were evacuated due to mold explosions, American University students reported diseases related to mold, and the offices of the Georgetown Department responded to 361 mold-related applications between August and October 2018 alone. , like Silver Spring, has also been guilty of mold remediation.
So why does this area have so many mold problems? According to Beth Harrison, managing attorney for the Legal Aid Society’s Housing Law Unit, DC has many old buildings that are prone to water damage and mold growth.
“The buildings are old and you’re seeing water infiltration issues because you’ve got leaky roofs, you’ve got windows that don’t have enough ventilation and probably need to be replaced,” Harrison said. “You’ve got old pipes and maybe they’re leaking behind the walls. That’s a problem you tend to have in older houses.”
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In 2015, the Legal Aid Society found that half of the foreclosure cases it recorded over a six-month period cited mold or mildew problems, according to Harrison, and that number is consistent with his experience. Kathy Zeisel, who works in construction at the Children’s Law Center, said something similar according to WAMU: “I would say that in more than half of the cases, maybe 70 percent, of the cases that we receive, people report that there is mold in their home.”
Neither DOEE nor DCRA responded to questions about whether the city has data collected specifically for mold violations.
“We refer to mold as a thing: it’s not,” Germolec said. “There are many different organisms and mold is everywhere. It is everywhere. The real problem is when it grows too much, which happens, for example, in humid areas. The amount of mold may not be a problem, but some people are very concerned about it.”
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“The health effects of mold are respiratory,” Germolec said. “A lot of people, when there is a lot of mold, they have rhinitis, which is a runny nose. They can have things like bronchitis. People who are susceptible to mold can have asthma symptoms, so breathing. Difficulty, shortness of breath, shortness of breath”.
In DC, 1 in 6 people have asthma, according to the DC Asthma Coalition, and the highest rates are in the 5th, 7th, and 8th wards. and. maybe because. to poor housing conditions, and that the problem “overwhelmingly affects the children of the urban poor.” The most dangerous of molds include their bodies are allergic to bronchopulmonary aspergillosis.
“DC has the world’s highest rate of asthma in adults and children,” Harrison said. “Physicians and other health professionals who work with children with asthma will tell you that often the housing, especially for low-income children, is the cause or [exacerbates] of their asthma. What we believe the DC government should do is make building code violations, including mold, a public health issue.
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For the agency to report mold problems if it wants to, according to Harrison. We have contacted DCRA repeatedly about this matter, but have not received a response.
Because the DCRA does not appear to specifically address mold cases, lenders must notify landlords only in writing to begin remediation. Landlords must respond within seven days and have 30 days to resolve the issue. To do this properly, they must hire a DOEE-licensed mold inspector and contractor. However, the DOEE will only provide a state-certified professional if the mold contamination is larger than 10 square feet, and the new bill does not change that.
Homeowners do not need to hire a DOEE certified mold professional if they do not own a home. If the mold contamination is minor, the owners will take care of it themselves.
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“We want a system that was established so that the tenants I work with [at the Legal Aid Society] do not come to me to submit something to the court, but call the government agency, the government agency will come out. they inspect, find violations, tell the owner to fix and follow the rules, then follow up to make sure it’s done and have a plan to stop the owner from causing problems. ” said Harrison.
Currently, DOEE supervises mold testers and designers, but does not train them. To become DOEE-certified as a licensed mold inspector, you must pass a certification program and exam and have three years of professional experience in the field, said DOEE spokesman Mike Matthews. Under the new bill, all DCRA building inspectors must be certified by DOEE within 180 days of the bill’s passage to cite mold.
If the homeowner does not adequately control the mold problem within 30 days, DCRA officials can issue a Class 4 violation. The first violation carries a fine of $100, while the fourth violation costs $800. Homeowners can apply for an extension if they make the effort. mold control or if repairs require more than 30 days to complete.
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If you’d like to weigh in on the matter, Mendelson and Councilwoman Mary Cheh will hold a hearing on the mold bill on Monday, December 9.
We rely on the support of readers like you to support our work. If everyone reading this donates just $5, we can pay for publications for an entire year. Mold is a fungal growth that occurs in areas with high humidity. It may seem harmless, but prolonged exposure to it can affect your health and the environment in more ways than one. They are very common in all types of homes and buildings, and can grow unexpectedly in places where they are difficult to see.
A large mold outbreak can be seen or smelled, but things aren’t always that simple. This invisible problem can last for a long time and be very dangerous. Stomach problems, breathing and fever are some of the symptoms you may experience.
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Fortunately, you have options when your home is contaminated. Mold is almost always caused by someone else’s actions or omissions, and you are entitled to compensation for all damages to your property and all injuries caused by negligence. It is important to know the best course of action if you want to fight toxic mold.
Depending on what caused the fungus to grow on your property, you may be able to file a lawsuit against whoever is responsible, allowing you to pay for all damages. An attorney familiar with how toxic mold lawsuits work can help you figure it out
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