Toxic Exposure in Rented Properties in Texas
What is the landlord or property owner’s responsibility if a tenant is exposed to toxic substances on the property? Is the landlord liable for any injury or sickness from the toxic exposure? The lease or renter’s contract is an important source of information describing your relationship to the property and the landlord, including the rules on exposure to toxic elements.
Texas law requires landlords to remove anything that “materially affects the physical health or safety of an ordinary tenant.” This can include mold, carbon monoxide, or any hazardous substance that can potentially cause sickness or injury.
In order to legally require the landlord to fix the toxic exposure, the condition cannot be caused by the tenant, the tenant’s family, or the tenant’s guest. You must notify the landlord in writing about the condition. The tenant cannot be delinquent in rent when they notify the landlord of the toxic exposure. Knowledge of the notification process and how to bring a successful toxic exposure claim is essential to get the compensation you need.
If you’ve been hurt by toxic exposure in your apartment, the Texas toxic exposure attorneys at the Loewy Law Firm can help. Call us at 512-280-0800 to discuss your landlord’s liability in a toxic exposure case.
What Is a Reasonable Amount of Time to Remedy Toxic Exposure?
One of Texas’s more common toxic exposures is black mold, primarily due to humidity and heat. If a tenant notices black mold growing on the walls and/or ceiling of the apartment, they can notify the landlord and request remediation.
However, it is important to know how you must notify the landlord of the black mold problem. The landlord has a reasonable amount of time to rectify the toxic exposure problem. Seven days is considered a “reasonable amount of time” under most circumstances.
The landlord has a reasonable amount of time to fix the problem if notified by a form of return receipt notification like certified mail or another method with tracking. Tenants are not required to send a second notice if they used a tracking system for the first notice. After the first official notice, the landlord is required to address the exposure.
If the landlord refuses to remedy the toxic exposure problem, retaining an experienced toxic exposure attorney is essential. If you end the lease and move, and the landlord comes after you for non-payment of rent, your attorney can represent you against the landlord. Further, an attorney can also help you file a claim against the landlord to receive compensation for illness or injury resulting from exposure.
What If the Solution Takes Longer Than Seven Days?
While seven days is commonly considered a reasonable amount of time for remediation, there are circumstances where the timetable can be longer. If the exposure situation is severe and requires better planning and advice from black mold experts or contractors, that can extend the response time. Additionally, materials and labor must be available according to a reasonable schedule.
If the health of any of the renters appears to have been affected by the toxic exposure, the tenant should talk to a personal injury attorney. Getting compensation from a landlord when the condition affects the tenant’s health requires proof that the toxic exposure created a hazardous condition. A personal injury attorney can consult with doctors and health care professionals who can confirm the health issues resulting from exposure.
Can I Fix the Exposure Problem?
Many renters will consider fixing the problem themselves to get rid of the toxic exposure, particularly if health complications ensue. Some tenants who spend their own money to have the toxic substance removed and the apartment cleaned professionally may also seek a reduction in their rent to offset the costs. However, repair and deduct rules in the Texas property code guide this process.
The amount of rent reduction for the cost of a repair cannot exceed one month’s rent or $500.00, whichever is greater. The tenant can only fix the issue and then reduce their rent payment if the landlord has a duty to fix the problem. If you decide to repair the exposure concern and then deduct the costs from your rent, consult with a knowledgeable attorney to ensure the legal process is handled correctly.
Courts will not hold a landlord liable for a tenant’s injury on the landlord’s property unless the tenant can show the landlord was careless and caused or contributed to the problem that caused the injury. The landlord can be found liable if he or she violated health and safety codes.
For example, failure to provide adequate ventilation for gas ranges or fireplaces is a violation. Carbon monoxide can cause a range of issues for tenants, like causing breathing issues or eventual poisoning through continued exposure. The landlord can be found liable under negligence per se laws. Negligence per se occurs when someone breaches their duty of care without an excuse. In this case, the tenant does not have to prove the landlord was careless and knew about the exposure. The presence of unhealthy amounts of carbon monoxide, for example, establishes negligence under negligence per se laws.
In Texas, landlords are legally required to keep the premises livable. If the landlord has neglected maintenance on the property, he or she may violate the implied warranty of habitability that the rented property meets basic health and safety conditions.
Contact a Texas Toxic Exposure Lawyer
Dealing with a toxic exposure problem in a rented apartment or house can be stressful and detrimental to your health. Don’t wait to contact an experienced and capable Texas toxic exposure lawyer to fight for a solution. With the Loewy Law Firm’s personal injury lawyers, you can expect quality customer service and a firm that will fight for you. Call us today at 512-280-0800 or reach out online for a free initial consultation.