Regulations – Mold

California Gov. Jerry Brown approved SB 655 by Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles. Signed into law October 9, 2015. Law in effect January 1, 2016.  SB 655 adds mold as a substandard condition in Health and Safety Code 17920.3.

Brief Digest:

 

SB 655. Housing standards: mold.

The State Housing law (Sections 17920 and 17920.3 of the Health and Safety Code, relating to housing standards).

 

SB 655, Housing standards: Mold.

The State Housing Law, which is administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development, prescribes standards for buildings used for human habitation and establishes definitions for this purpose. The law provides that a building, or a portion of it, in which certain conditions are found to exist, such as a lack of sanitation, as specified, is substandard. The law provides that a violation of these provisions is a misdemeanor.

 

This bill specifies that visible or otherwise demonstrable mold growth, excepting mold caused by inappropriate housekeeping practices or improper use of ventilation, is a type of inadequate sanitation and therefore a substandard condition. The bill defines mold as living or dead fungi or its related products or parts including spores and hyphae. By expanding the definition of a crime, this bill would impose a state mandated local program.

 

What does this mean for rental housing? A brief interpretation from the California Apartment Association says:

 

“While the new law does add “visible mold” to the list of conditions that can make a property substandard or untenantable, SB 655 offers property owners a number of protections from bogus claims of mold contamination:”

 

Visibility: The mold growth must be visible.

 

Confirmation: The mold must be determined by a health officer or code enforcement officer to rise to a level that endangers the life, limb, health, property, safety or welfare of the public or the occupants. (No self-declarations that mold exists)

 

Location: The law excludes from the substandard code mold that is minor and found on surfaces that can accumulate moisture as part of their properly functioning and intended use – such as bathroom showers and window sills.