Mold Exposure: Truth and Consequences in Georgia
Subpar upkeep is an unfortunate reality for renters around Georgia, many of whom pay at or above Federal averages for apartments and retail spaces. The same is true for commercial building lessees who utilize space for retail, wholesale, or office needs; maintenance often lacks.
Apart from normal electrical issues, structural integrity complaints, and underlying foundation problems, one worst-case scenario has grown into an omnipresent threat in many homes around the state – MOLD. It is not only sickening the masses, it is turning structures into chambers of death.
We dive into the world of mold, which merges personal injury and rental properties, along with other commercial buildings.
Three Molds Common to Georgia Structures
Mold is a naturally occurring fungus that is present in many Georgia dwellings. Not all mold spores should have people packing their bags, but there are several types of mold that could cause health issues if the property owner refuses to remedy the issue.
- Chlorohalonata, a species of stachybotrys known as ‘black’ or ‘toxic’ mold, is the deadliest of all molds. Toxic black mold needs a lot of moisture for a long time before it can begin to grow. This is why it often grows where there has been a water leak hidden from view. Leaks inside walls, above ceilings or under floors are common causes of toxic black mold.
Outdoors, toxic black mold grows in soil and on plant debris. Indoors, toxic black mold needs materials high in cellulose and low in nitrogen to grow on. This means toxic black mold can grow on many common indoor building materials.
Prolonged exposure without eye, nose, or mouth protection has been linked to several adverse health conditions, including asthma, sinus infections, brain damage – even death.
Green mold thrives where dampness is prevalent. Places like commercial refrigeration units, apartment attics, or anywhere else where moisture can exist, which normally amounts to tighter spaces. Most people merely wash this mold away, although heavy doses of green mold can complicate breathing. This mold is considered an allergenic.
Ever noticed sheathing, furniture and other areas with a white, fuzzy-like stain blotted everywhere? That’s white mold, an almost harmless yet still problematic mold that grows on plants but migrates into pipes, and even in areas of buildings not cleaned or frequented. Not to be confused to efflorescence (a similar occurrence but on concrete), white mold would also be considered a mild allergenic.
Mold and Humidity
Humidity also plays an integral role in the development of mold spores in walls, wood, and other structures. According to the EPA, indoor humidity above 60% is ideal for mold growth. Anything below 30% can also cause trouble, therefore it is advisable for you to keep the indoor humidity somewhere between 40%-50%.
Ask your landlord to test your humidity level if you feel like an elephant is sitting on your otherwise healthy lungs as this could either indicate too high of humidity, or mold somewhere nearby.
Truths About Mold and Premises Liability
Now that you completed a brief biology course on mold, let us dive into when mold becomes a premises liability, if at all.
Truth: Landlords Have a Duty to Notify
While Georgia lacks mold laws specific to the landlord-tenant relationship, O.G.C.A. § 44-7-20 states that landlords must notify prospective tenants if flooding has affected the building at least three times within a five-year period preceding the signing of lease.
Truth: Landlords are Not the Only Liable Parties
It is a natural assumption that landlords should be held accountable for toxic levels of mold. However, any contractor, engineer, construction company, or realtor with firsthand knowledge, and the lack of conveying that knowledge, can be held liable. Same with building inspectors who knew of a mold issue but failed to notify the owner or contractor.
Truth: Mold Lawsuits Are Real
Do not let your landlord bully you into thinking mold is not an issue worth civil action. If you have been injured in any way from mold exposure – especially the deadly stachybotrys – you are well within your legal right to seek redress.
Since the statute of limitations varies based on claim type, hire an attorney immediately when you have obtained documented proof of your mold exposure, including medical records and photos.
Mold Issues Require Remediation Immediately
Mold problems in Georgian rental properties, commercial establishments, and homes you buy make the air you breathe uncomfortable, and the fluctuating degrees of health issues one may experience are indicative of the types of mold to which you have been exposed.
Remember, if your landlord has refused to remediate the mold issue that is terrorizing your building, and you want legal action taken against them, a premises liability attorney should be your first call. While Georgia does not allow tenants to withhold rent until work is completed, courts recognize tenants’ rights to complete work themselves and deduct the costs from rent.
Toxic mold in dwellings you rent, eat food in, and operate businesses from can lead to serious health complications, if not death. The compassionate Georgia Trial Attorneys want to discuss your mold issue in depth. Contact them at 833-4TheWin today.