Is Your Rental Making You Sick? A Tenant’s Guide to Healthy Air

Maintaining good indoor air quality (IAQ) is crucial for a healthy home. Unfortunately, exposure to pollutants like mold, lead-based paint, and secondhand smoke can negatively impact your health, especially for children, older adults, and those with respiratory problems.

Here’s how you can create a healthy living environment.

Taking Action: Your Role in Maintaining Healthy Air

Here’s what you can do to improve IAQ in your rental:

  • Control Moisture: Run bathroom fans after showering and kitchen fans while cooking to remove moisture and pollutants.
  • Minimize Dust: Use a HEPA filter vacuum to trap dust particles effectively.
  • Store Food Properly: This prevents attracting pests that can contribute to poor air quality.
  • Filters: Change HVAC filters every 90 days
Landlord Responsibilities: Addressing IAQ Problems

Many IAQ issues fall under the landlord’s responsibility. These include:

  • Fixing leaks: Plumbing and roof leaks can create moisture problems that lead to mold growth.
  • Maintaining Ventilation: Proper ventilation equipment ensures good air circulation and removes pollutants.
  • Lead-Based Paint Abatement: Landlords are responsible for managing lead-based paint hazards.
  • Pest Control: In multi-unit buildings, landlords handle pest infestations.

Communication is Key: Notifying Your Landlord

If you suspect an IAQ issue, promptly notify your landlord. Your lease agreement might outline the communication process for reporting problems. Additionally, state laws may dictate notification procedures and response timelines for landlords.

Ensuring Proper Repairs

When an IAQ problem arises, prompt and proper repairs are essential. Established practices exist for addressing these issues while protecting residents during the process. Both tenants and landlords, along with hired professionals, should be informed of these best practices.

Finding Resources: Legal Requirements and Support

State and local governments offer resources to understand IAQ problems and proper solutions. Here are some helpful starting points:

  • Public Health Departments: Many provide IAQ information online and tips on finding qualified professionals.
  • Housing Codes: These establish minimum standards for rental housing, often including specific conditions that must be maintained. Local government agencies enforce these codes and can conduct inspections.
Understanding Rental Housing Laws

Knowing your rights is crucial. Here’s a breakdown of the main legal resources that address health and safety in rental housing:

  • Housing Codes: These set minimum standards for rental properties.
  • Landlord-Tenant Laws: These establish rights and responsibilities for both parties, including maintaining the property in a safe and habitable condition.
  • IAQ-Specific Laws: Some states and localities have laws addressing specific IAQ issues like mold, lead-based paint, and carbon monoxide alarms.
Resolving Disputes: When Agreements Don’t Happen

Ideally, landlords and tenants can work together to resolve IAQ problems. However, disagreements may arise. Before considering formal action, review your lease agreement (if applicable) and understand your state and local laws.

If you’ve only spoken to your landlord verbally, it’s recommended to follow up with written communication detailing the issue.

This guide highlights two options for resolving disputes:

  • Housing Code Enforcement Agencies: They can investigate complaints and order repairs if code violations are found.
  • Legal Assistance Providers: Attorneys or legal aid organizations can offer guidance and represent you in legal proceedings.

Remember, there are other approaches besides these two. Some courts offer mediation programs where a neutral third party facilitates communication and helps reach agreements.

By understanding your rights and taking proactive measures, you can ensure a healthy and breathable living environment in your rental home. This information does not provide legal advice. It is not a substitute for consulting a lawyer about your specific situation. 

Apartments, hotels and motels are regulated as public lodging establishments by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), Division of Hotels and Restaurants.

DBPR may inspect all public lodging establishments for safety and sanitation issues.  If you observed violations of Florida Statutes or Florida Administrative Code then you may file a complaint with the DBPR Division of Hotels and Restaurants’ call service center by phone at 850-487-1395 or online. If you file a complaint with DBPR and they are unable to investigate your allegation, you may file your complaint with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.   Where no legal jurisdiction is known to exist, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services offers an “informal mediation” after they receive a consumer complaint:

If you suspect a serious issue or require professional confirmation, contacting a certified indoor air quality inspector like Bio Pro who can provide valuable insights.

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