California's 2015 SB 655 Housing Standards: Mold

Summary

California's SB 655, passed in 2015, is an act to add Section 1941.7 to the Civil Code, and to amend Sections 17920 and 17920.3 of the Health and Safety Code, relating to housing standards, specifically dealing with the presence of mold in buildings.

Ranjan Lahiri of Wood, Smith, Henning & Berman is a great lawyer and a client who wrote an excellent summary and analysis of SB 655: GOVERNOR APPROVES BILL THAT ADDS MOLD TO LIST OF UNINHABITABLE CONDITIONS by Ranjan Lahiri. Ranjan writes:

"... the bill adds mold to the list of substandard housing conditions and gives local enforcement agencies specific authority to address mold complaints... 
... a landlord does not have a duty to inspect or repair conditions of mold until he or she receives notice...
...a building is deemed substandard if there exists "visible mold" ... gives a code enforcement officer the authority to declare a rental unit substandard based on the existence of mold... 
... the addition of mold to the list of substandard conditions will make it easier for claimants to establish a prima facia habitability claim based on conditions of mold. However, SB-655 does provide some benefits for defense counsel who defend landlord/tenant mold claims. In many instances, tenants fail to report conditions of mold to their landlord and retain possession of their units while their legal counsel investigate and test the unit to prove up a mold exposure claim. SB-655 clarifies that a landlord's duty to inspect or repair conditions of mold does not arise until the landlord is given notice of the condition by the tenant or the landlord has notice that the tenant is not maintaining the unit. Furthermore, by clarifying that mold can be considered an uninhabitable condition, landlords will be able to better understand their potential liability for visible mold in a unit and be able to take proactive steps to inspect and repair any such conditions."

Resources

(Search "ca sb 655 2015")

  1. Legislative Info
  2. Text of the Law
  3. Text of the Law
  4. Analysis & Comments
  5. Bill Documents
  6. Senate and Assembly Voting History
  7. CA Healthy Housing Coalition
  8. Legislative Tracking
  9. Solano Public Health - Includes A Good Quick Summary
    Summary: Provides that a building lessor is not obligated to repair a dilapidation relating to mold until he or she has notice of it, or the tenant is in violation. Authorizes a landlord to enter a dwelling to repair dilapidation under specified conditions. Specifies visible or otherwise demonstrable mold growth, excepting mold that is minor and found on surfaces that can accumulate moisture as part of their proper and intended use, is a type of inadequate sanitation and a substandard condition. Defines mold.
  10. San Diego Apartment Association Update