Residential landlords need to provide some extra paperwork at the time they enter into a rental or lease agreement.

Beginning January 1, 2022, all residential landlords are to hand new tenants a copy of the educational booklet entitled: Information on Dampness and Mold for Renters in California. A physical copy of the booklet needs to be delivered to the prospective tenant; an electronic copy alone does not suffice. [Calif. Health and Safety Code §26148]

Timing for the landlord’s delivery of the booklet is prior to execution of a rental or lease agreement by the tenant. [Health & S C §26148(b)]

Further, while the law does not require landlords to issue the educational booklet to tenants renewing or extending their rental or lease agreement, it is best practice to do so. Informing all tenants to be watchful for signs of mold will assist landlords in maintaining their property and keeping the premises mold free over the long term.

While this booklet became required 20 years ago under the 2001 Toxic Mold Protection Act, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has only just recently managed to publish the booklet. Information in the booklet covers:

  • identifying mold and its causes;
  • steps to take to abate mold; and
  • the health effects of mold.

Two versions of the booklet have been published:

Editor’s note – RPI (Realty Publications, Inc.) has adapted both government publications into our library of 400+ real estate forms.

The tenant acknowledges receipt of the booklet by the provisions of the rental and lease agreements. [See RPI Form 550 and Form 55 1 §6.3(a)]

Delivery of the booklet is enforced by the local health and safety office or by local code and environmental health enforcement officers. [Health and SC §26154]

Mold growth makes a unit uninhabitable

Mold growth occurs in damp environments, common following a flood or leak. Mold can also occur in everyday damp areas, like in a bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, and air conditioning radiators without proper ventilation. Exposure to mold can cause a range of health problems, from mild allergic reactions to severe infections. Read more about mold and its effects in residential dwellings at the CDPH’s website.

A health or code enforcement officer may designate a building as substandard and uninhabitable for visible and substantial mold growth. [Calif. Civil Code §1941.7; Health & S C §17920; 17920.3]

Landlords are required to promptly abate a mold infestation when they have notice of:

  • the infestation’s existence; or
  • the tenant’s violation of their obligation to keep the rented premises clean and sanitary.

The terms of rental and lease agreements impose a duty on the tenant to keep the premises clean, well ventilated, free of mold contaminating moisture buildup, and sanitary. [See RPI Form 550 and Form 551 §6.3]

Importantly, the tenant agrees to promptly notify the landlord of unabated moisture buildup in the premises so the landlord has notice and can take preventive steps to eliminate the adverse conditions and any mold contamination. [See RPI Form 550 and Form 551 §6.3(b)]

After a landlord is notified of mold contamination, they are required to deliver to the tenant a reasonable notice in writing of their intent to enter the premises to abate the mold. [See RPI Form 567]

Home sellers and their agents must disclose to homebuyers any mold they are aware of, as well as any reports or knowledge they have about the variety of the existing mold. However, home sellers have no obligation to investigate whether improvements on the property contain mold or when mold exists to determine whether the mold is a threat to human health.

Related article:

Safety standards for residential landlords