MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — News 19 viewers across the Tennessee Valley reached out to complain about unlivable, mold conditions in their rental home or apartment.
Kaylon Webb told News 19 she moved into her dream home in Harvest for $1,300 per month — but just a month later, she says black mold took over, forcing her out.
“This mold is bad,” Webb said. “I see full spores on the wall and coming out of the ceiling. It’s on the electrical panel and it’s causing issues with my breathing.”
Unfortunately for Webb, mold and water issues in rental properties are common in the State of Alabama and forcing the landlord to make the homes livable has become a growing problem.
Legal Services Alabama (LSA) has been flooded with tenant complaints.
“You can’t insure against in Alabama because we live in a swamp,” said Holly Ray, a managing attorney for Legal Services Alabama.
Ray defends renters’ rights and says there are no laws in place to protect those rights. She says before moving out, Webb should have first contacted her landlord in writing and given 14 days to respond.
The one roadblock to that is enforcement because neither the state nor the county has laws about monitoring or enforcing mold removal.
“And if they fail to do so at that point, you can consider your lease broken and move out,” Ray explained. “That’s a big problem.”
With the lack of affordable housing in the new market, tenants are forced to endure the mold issue. According to LSA, the Alabama repair stature says renters cannot stop paying rent on their own until repairs are done.
“And you cannot go and make the repairs yourself and then deduct your receipt off of the rent,” Ray continued.
Ray says the only way is to prove the issues are causing physical harm.
“You’ll have to prove that you’ve had asthma before you moved in and now the asthma is exacerbated by the mold and you’ll need to get your doctor to say that on the record,” said Ray.
Ray suggests purchasing a mold test kit that are offered online and the American Lung Association offers free air quality tests.