Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) announced it settled a fair housing case from California involving allegations of disability discrimination related to the remediation of mold as well as retaliation against residents for raising the mold concern.
The case was brought to HUD when a couple with disabilities filed a complaint asserting that their apartment owner/management company refused to remove mold from a building after the couple reported it. Furthermore, once the mold was identified, the complaint also alleged that the couple received a lease termination notice and an increase in their monthly rent. After receiving the lease termination notice, the couple vacated their unit.
Pursuant to the terms of a conciliation agreement, the owner and management company promised to pay the couple $6,000, undertake fair housing training, amend their reasonable accommodation policies, and distribute the revised policies to their tenants and employees.
From my perspective, mold is a hot button issue. Indeed, many of my clients treat mold extremely seriously and in truth we expedite remediation of suspected mold. If mold is found, nothing good can come to a property by leaving it unchecked. As such, while I am sure there are two sides to this story, it is rare in my experience to see mold unchecked after a report. And certainly it is uncommon to raise the rent and send a lease termination notice for such a report, which is what I suspect raised a red flag with HUD.
So, if you get a mold report, take it seriously and have it promptly checked. And document the report and remediation. This is one that management can get right.
Just A Thought.