Property Management

Toxic mold liability requires a significantly unhealthful quantity

Reported by Nick Love

An inspection of a residential unit with conditions conducive to mold revealed the presence of mold, including an insignificant amount of otherwise toxic mold. The tenant suffered from a range of health problems which his doctor attributed to toxic mold. A second inspection revealed that the only significant amounts of mold present in the unit were non-toxic, and the amount of toxic mold found was typical of normal conditions and would not contribute to health problems. The tenant sought compensation for his health problems, claiming the landlord had neglected his duty to provide a healthful environment since he allowed the development of mold which led to the tenant’s health problems. The landlord claimed he was not liable for the tenant’s illness since there was no evidence of a significant amount of toxic mold in the tenant’s unit. A California appeals court held the landlord was not liable for the tenant’s illness since the tenant’s doctor’s supposition of a connection between the tenant’s symptoms and toxic mold was insufficient to establish a connection between the tenant’s health problems and the presence of significant amounts of toxic mold in the unit based on the inspection report. [Dee v. PCS Property Management, Inc. (May 11, 2009) __CA4th___]

Editor’s note — The holding of this case is apparent from the first line of the opinion, which makes clear that mold is everywhere, in every breath we breathe.