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Getting Mold Removed from Your Apartment: Your Rights Under D.C. Law

Authored By: Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

Are you a tenant with mold in your apartment? If so, you have rights under D.C. law. D.C. law requires your landlord to remove mold in your apartment. Mold can be unhealthy for you and your family. It can trigger allergic reactions. Mold can also make a person’s asthma problem worse.This flyer explains what your landlord must do if there is mold in your apartment. It also explains the steps you should take when mold is in your apartment.

See below for a downloadable form letter you can send to your landlord requesting an inspection and removal of mold.

Your rights under D.C. law:

If there is mold in your apartment, you should send an email or a letter to your landlord about the mold.  After getting your email or letter, your landlord must:

  • Inspect the mold within 7 days.  
  • Remove any mold that is found within 30 days of the inspection.

The landlord must perform a visual inspection of the mold first.

  • Before taking any steps to remove the mold, the landlord must perform an inspection to check for visible mold.  
  • This inspection must be done before the landlord takes any steps to remove the mold.

Your landlord must use a professional to eliminate large mold problems:

  • If a moldy area in your apartment is ten square feet or more, your landlord must use a licensed professional to assess the mold problem, and another licensed professional to eliminate the mold.
    • How do you know if you have ten square feet of mold in your apartment?  Use a ruler to measure the moldy areas in your apartment.  Multiply the height of a moldy area by the width of a moldy area.  For example, if a moldy area in your apartment is 5 feet high and 2 feet wide, you have “ten square feet” of mold. 
    • If you have ten square feet of mold, the landlord must use a mold professional to fix the problem.
    • The mold professional must remove the mold in a way that protects the health of you and your family.
  • If the area affected by the mold is less than ten square feet, the landlord may fix the mold problem without using a licensed mold professional.  But the landlord still should:
    • Consult a licensed mold professional before doing the work.
    • Do the work in a way that protects the health of you and your family.
    • Follow guidelines for getting rid of mold written by the D.C. Department of Energy and the Environment.

Some things to remember:

  • The landlord should not just paint over the mold.  This will not fix the problem.
  • The landlord should fix any moisture or ventilation problems that caused the mold problem.  This will help make sure the mold does not come back. 
  • The landlord must tell new tenants who are applying if there was more than 10 square feet of mold in an apartment during the previous 3 years unless the mold was eliminated by a licensed mold professional.

A Tenant Checklist: Steps You Should Take When Mold Is In Your Apartment

  • Examine damp and poorly ventilated areas in your home for mold. 
  • Get a ruler and measure the moldy areas to see if they are 10 square feet or more.
  • Take photos of the mold – have someone hold a ruler against the mold while you take the picture so someone looking at the photo can see how large the area is.
  • Send your landlord an email or letter describing the mold and asking the landlord to take action.
    • Remember: Put your complaint in writing (an email or a letter)!  The last page of this flyer has a form you can use.
    • Make sure to write the date in your email or letter.
    • If you give the landlord a letter, give the original to the landlord and keep a copy for yourself – have someone in the landlord’s office sign and date your copy so you can prove the landlord received the letter.
    • Remember: your landlord must inspect the mold within 7 days and remove the mold within 30 days of the inspection.
    • Remember: if the area affected by the mold is ten square feet or more, the landlord must hire a licensed mold professional.
  • Always keep copies of any emails and letters you send the landlord. 
  • Write down the dates of important events (for example, write down the date the landlord came to your apartment to inspect the mold) – you’ll need this information if you have to go to court! 
  • Take your landlord to court if your landlord does not remove the mold within 30 days of inspection.














Form Letter to Landlord

Last Review and Update: Oct 14, 2016
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