California Legislative Update (2016): SB 655 Creates Heightened Standards for Dealing with Mold in Residential Rental Units

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SB 655, effective January 1, 2016, will place a stronger emphasis on the existence of mold in regulating standards for habitability in residential rental property. Existing law already required landlords to ensure that property was habitable when initially leased to a tenant and to “repair all subsequent dilapidations thereof”. It also allowed tenants to “repair and deduct” from their rent if landlords were not timely addressing these problems.

Out of a concern for the detrimental health consequences of mold in the home, the California legislature added California Civil Code §1941.7, which explicitly adds mold to the list of habitability concerns that implicate these rights and obligations.

Section 1941.7 works a compromise for landlords, however, where obligations do not arise where either the landlord has no notice or the tenant has failed to keep the unit clean and sanitary. The statute also adds mold to the list of reasons a landlord can notice entry into a rental unit for inspection.