There’s Mold in My Apartment: What Do I Do?

Written by Ingrid Haftel
Updated 12/05/2019

Mold isn’t just ugly to look at—it’s dangerous to be around, especially for the elderly, children, and people with certain health problems, like asthma. While there are some things you can do on your own, your landlord is legally required to fix the problem. Don’t ignore mold in your apartment! Use the steps below as a guide for getting your mold problem under control.

1. Ask your landlord to clean the mold and take steps to make sure it doesn’t come back

If you live in a building with 3 or more units—or if someone in your home has asthma—your landlord is legally required to keep your apartment free of mold. That means they are responsible for cleaning the mold and fixing what’s causing it, like leaky pipes.

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2. Document the problem—and keep track of your communication with your landlord about it

Take photos of the mold and any evidence of moisture. You should also save copies of any communication you have with your landlord about the issue. Save copies of any emails or letters you send or receive. For phone calls, write down the date, time, and what was said. This documentation can help you if you have a problem getting repairs made.

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3. Safely clean small patches of mold and seal off what you can’t clean

While you wait for repairs, you can clean small patches of mold with a mild solution of bleach and water. If you’re sensitive to mold, ask someone else to do the cleaning.

If the mold has spread to other household items, like curtains or rugs, throw those items away. If you have receipts for anything you have to throw away, save them. And if you need to buy anything for the clean up, save those receipts. You may be able to get your costs reimbursed.

Whatever you can’t clean should get sealed off with plastic bags or tarps and duct tape—this can help prevent mold from circulating in the air.

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4. Make sure your landlord fixes the underlying moisture problem

Mold in your apartment is actually a symptom of a bigger problem: extra moisture, caused by things like leaky pipes and poor ventilation. If you don’t get rid of the moisture, mold will keep coming back. It’s your landlord’s responsibility to fix the source of moisture, not just clean up the mold. You can get a head start on the problem by trying to keep your home dry. Using a fan or dehumidifier can help.

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5. If your landlord doesn’t act, use to file a complaint and get legal help

You already know that just because the law requires your landlord to do something doesn’t mean they’ll do it. If they don’t respond to your request—or if the repairs they make don’t fix the problem—send them a formal letter of complaint. If that doesn’t work, you can take legal action against them in Housing Court.

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What Else Can I Do About Issues in My Apartment?

You may also have the right to reduced rent or reimbursement from your landlord for any costs associated with your mold problem. See this mold fact sheet from Metropolitan Council on Housing for more information.And don’t forget that organizing your neighbors to take action with you can help pressure your landlord to respond. Encourage your neighbors to file complaints and tell them about the Tenant Platform. The more people who speak up, the harder it is for landlords to ignore what’s going on!

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