Thousands of rental properties across the state of Illinois struggle with mold problems. Mold is a serious environmental hazard that thrives in warm, damp places. It can be found in basements and attics across Illinois.
Fortunately, there are rules in place to protect tenants and hold landlords liable.
Generally speaking, landlords across the United States are required to maintain safe premises for tenants. Part of that responsibility includes remediating mold problems. Landlords across America are required to remediate mold problems in a timely manner, and they’re also required to pay for that remediation.
Interestingly, Illinois is one state that doesn’t have specific laws requiring landlords to fix mold problems, and there are no federal laws covering a landlord’s mold removal responsibilities.
Keep reading to discover the specific rules regarding mold in rental properties in Illinois.
Illinois Has No Specific Law Covering Mold Remediation for Landlords
The United States does not have a federal law requiring a landlord to remediate a mold problem or pay for it.
The state of Illinois also has no such law. There’s no specific requirement stating that a landlord has a duty to prevent or remediate a mold problem.
However, that doesn’t mean landlords can ignore mold problems. A landlord who ignores or fails to adequately fix a mold problem may be exposing themselves to liability.
As explained by Nolo.com,
“Tenants who believe they have been harmed by the presence of high concentrations of mold in their apartment can try to recover damages in court to compensate them for their loss. If a judge or jury agrees that the owner negligently created a mold problem or allowed one to continue at a property, the owner could be on the hook for any harm.”
There have been numerous such lawsuits in the state of Illinois. In one noteworthy case, a resident of a condo complex in Des Plaines, Illinois sued the condo association to recoup expenses for water damage repair and mold remediation. The association had allegedly ignored the resident’s requests to address a water infiltration issue in her apartment. The trial court awarded the resident $5,500 in damages as well as $10,000 in punitive damages and an extra $12,000 in punitive damages as attorneys’ fees. The court found that the condo association had neglected its duty to keep the “apartment dry, clean and safe from mold.” The association appealed the decision, but an appeals court upheld it.
In this case and others, tenants have been able to win compensation for mold-related issues – in spite of the fact that the state of Illinois does not have specific laws regarding mold in rental properties.
Landlords Are Not Required to Disclose High Concentrations of Mold in Rental Properties
The state of Illinois has no regulations or statutes requiring landlords to disclose high concentrations of mold in rental properties. The landlord is not required to disclose mold problems to tenants or home buyers.
There is one federal law regarding a similar issue: federal law requires landlords to disclose the presence of lead paint to tenants or home buyers. However, there’s no such law regarding mold.
One of the few requirements regarding landlords and mold is that landlords are required to have their buildings inspected. However, buildings are only inspected for surface issues like electrical wiring and visible mold. In many cases, there’s a serious mold problem behind the walls, but that problem goes undetected by inspectors.
What Rights Do Illinois Tenants Have Regarding Mold Problems?
Up above, we explained that Illinois landlords aren’t required to disclose or remediate mold problems in rental properties. So what rights do tenants in Illinois have – if any?
Well, if you move into a rental unit and discover the presence of mold, then you can submit a written request to your landlord to fix the problem. This request should list the underlying issue that caused the mold problem – like a leaky pipe. Once you’ve submitted a written request, then the landlord is required to repair the work within a specific length of time – typically 14 to 30 days.
If a landlord refuses to repair the problem within the 14 to 30 day period, then the tenant may have additional legal advantages.
There have been cases where Illinois tenants have been able to hire an outside contractor to repair the mold problem, for example, and then have that amount deducted from a future rent payment.
In some cases, tenants can even break the lease if the mold problem is serious and the landlord refuses to fix it.
Ultimately, if there’s a mold problem in your rented property, then you may wish to get a professional mold inspection. After an inspection reveals the presence of mold, you can pay for mold remediation yourself. Or, you can sue your landlord for failing to maintain a “livable” environment. In some cases, your landlord may offer to pay for mold remediation, but they’re not legally required to do so.
Tenants Can Sue Landlords for Damages
If you’ve suffered damages as a result of a mold problem, then you may be able to sue your landlord for compensation. A court may award damages based on your medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other personal expenses, for example. A court may also award compensation for physical damage to the property.
Illinois has no specific laws regarding landlords and mold damages. However, there are laws regarding how a landlord maintains a property. Under Illinois state law, landlords have a vague requirement to maintain “livable” conditions at the property. The definition for “livable” can vary widely.
Overall, Illinois Renters Have Few Rights When It Comes to Mold
Ultimately, Illinois tenants have few rights regarding mold remediation. Landlords aren’t required to disclose mold problems to tenants or home buyers. However, landlords have a responsibility to maintain a “livable” environment according to Illinois state law. The wording is vague, which can make it difficult for renters to seek compensation from landlords in court.
Nevertheless, there have been plenty of successful mold lawsuits in Illinois where tenants seek compensation from landlords for mold damages. If you believe you are owed compensation from a landlord, a business owner, an employer, or a property owner for mold-related issues, then you may wish to speak with an attorney.