Moisture and Mold in Rental Homes

In California, tenants and landlords each have a part in keeping a home free from moisture and mold. Generally, the landlord must provide a unit that is fit for occupation and follows the building and health codes.

The California Housing Code, as of January 1, 2016, says that if there is enough dampness or visible mold (or certain other conditions) in a dwelling that it is a danger to the health of occupants, the dwelling is substandard and must be remedied by the owner.

Tell your landlord if you have this kind of problem and ask them to fix it. If the problem is not adequately fixed, you can contact your city or county code enforcement agency to ask for an inspection.

California Department of Consumer Affairs

California Tenants: A Guide to Residential Tenants’ and Landlords’ Rights and Responsibilities, Pages 36-47. Revised July, 2012.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Tenant Rights, Laws and Protections: California

Our mold remeditation team gets a lot of renters in the Los Angeles area that call daily. They either have mold issues, think they have a mold issue but can’t see it, the landlord is not responding, or wants to use a handy man to just paint over it – you name it. We’ve assisted many renters with their concerns regarding mold in their rental properties.

In today’s post, we’re going to give you some steps to help you not only with some ways you can deal with your landlord, but provide you some “do it yourself “ testing so you can verify if you have mold or not, without relying on a company like ourselves, to save you some money.

I tried calling my landlord several times about my mold issue, and he’s not responding, what should I do? – Renter in Sherman Oaks

First and foremost, if you see signs of mold, then there must be a moisture issue. Figure that out – is it a rain leak, is steam building up from you showering or cooking, is it a pipe leak? All these water events cause mold growth.

Once you determine this, then you want to send a certified letter to landlord, this is the BEST method, this verifies that he/she has received it. Also take photos.

Here’s a sample letter:

Dear ______,

I have attempted to contact you via phone call and email with no response. Attached are some photos of mold in my bedroom, myself & family are not feeling well. Can you please address this situation ASAP? If I do not hear from you, I will take it upon myself to contact a local mold professional, pay for testing and deduct off next months rent.

I thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.


(Your name)

How much does mold testing cost? – Renter in Valencia

This really depends on what’s being tested, how many samples, and how fast you need the results. Our pricing can be as low as $89, to a high of $389 for up to 4 samples – a bit lower if it is only a few samples.

Can’t you just come over and tell me if I have mold or not for free? – Renter in Lawndale

This unfortunately cannot be done. Even with our 28 years of experience, it’s very difficult to provide accurate information with respect to mold. We truly rely on the mold lab, which tells us the exact species of mold, how toxic it is, if it’s airborne and if it’s active & growing. Performing a site visit cannot determine these and if one does, it can mislead you.

I don’t see any mold but I can smell it, what should I do? – Renter in Tarzana

That musty, moist, damp odor most of the time is associated with mold growth. The only way to determine the location is to have a Los Angeles mold inspection & test done.

The inspection will determine where the moisture is, and once that is verified an immediate air test or swab analysis should be taken.

Can you refer an attorney to help me with my mold situation? – Renter in North Hollywood

This site & the attorney we’ve heard from other renters in Los Angeles with mold was a tremendous help.

Most attorneys in the Los Angeles area won’t take on certain mold cases. There has to be substantial evidence of contamination health wise & personal items.

Can I just use bleach and clean it myself? – Renter in Northridge

Here at the Twin Home Experts, We do not recommend using bleach, or products that contain bleach, to disinfect for mold. They don’t work, and  if your concerned about mold health, they are too hazardous, and not any more effective than safer methods.

Bottom line, using bleach can harm your health equivalent to what mold can do.

Bleach can irritate the skin, eyes, nose, and throat, and cause breathing problems (like asthma) and injuries. Bleach can also damage clothing, shoes, and other AND bleach does not keep mold from growing back, in fact we have the opposite, it grows back even more aggressive.

You cannot completely disinfect porous materials that are moldy, such as carpets, fabric, or drywall (gypsum board) – you must remove them. However, you can reuse washable items like clothing if all mold and staining can be removed. For smooth nonporous surfaces, scrubbing with detergents and other recommended cleaners will remove mold, without the need to disinfect. Using bleach to disinfect is only recommended when there is a concern about infection, such as when there is a sewage spill.

If you are thinking of using bleach despite these warnings:

  • Only use bleach or disinfectants on nonporous materials and only AFTER cleaning with soap or detergent.
  • Never mix bleach with ammonia or anything other than water (unless product label allows for mixing) because this may produce toxic fumes.
  • It is very difficult to completely protect yourself from fumes and skin contact. Handle bleach with caution. Wear eye protection and gloves made to protect your skin from harsh chemicals. Make sure there is very good air circulation or outdoor air ventilation to reduce the fumes.

How can I test for mold myself? I don’t have money. – Renter in Santa Clarita

You as a renter have some options to do your own testing like a Los Angeles mold expert, using a third party local Los Angeles accredited mold lab. This could save you some money for sure. We’ve broken down some options for you.

Tape lift sample:

  1. grab a zip lock bag
  2. Scotch tape double sided sticky
  3. index card
  4. pen to write
  5. phone or camera
  6. mask

What you’ll do is cut a piece of scotch tape about 1 inch long and stick the tape directly on the mold, so the spores cling onto the tape.

Make sure at this time, you take a wide photo shot to document the area your sampling.

Place the sample inside the zip lock bag with index card that has:

  1. address with (Apt number)
  2. your full name, phone number & email
  3. the area you sampled ( Ie bedroom, bathroom, closet kitchen etc etc)

Now your ready to drop off the samples for testing. You’ll pay the lab directly upon arrival.

Here are some Los Angeles local mold labs that you can take the samples to. You may want to call them prior to discuss cost & make sure you have the right information.

How much does mold testing cost in Los Angeles? – Renter in Canoga Park

There are many mold testing companies to choose from here in the Los Angeles metro area. Pricing and costs vary depending on what type of inspection and reporting they perform. The cheapest form of mold testing is going to be one sample of tape lift or swab.

This will identify if in fact you have mold present.

Twin Home Mold Experts charges as low as $89 and we’ve seen some companies charge as much as $295 for just one sample.

My landlord is just going to paint over it, he says that’s all he needs to do. Is this okay? – Renter in Long Beach

Unfortunately, this is a cheap route that the landlord is taking. We see many property owners doing this, and it covers it up for a while, but eventually the mold begins to bleed through as it grows & blooms, particularly if the moisture has not been detected or fixed.


If your renting a property and you think you have mold, but your landlord is not being responsive or helpful, you have a choice to perform your own test or hire a company to verify if your renting a toxic mold space.